The dancing’s amazing!
For International Women’s Day, UNDP leader and former prime minister of New Zealand Helen Clark picks seven women who are leading positive change all over the world
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairperson, African Union
In 2012, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was the first woman to be elected African Union (AU) chairperson since its inception in 1963. In this role, she is driving the AU’s decade of the African Woman (2010 to 2020). She is already making significant policy decisions to address gender issues in Africa such as appointing a special envoy for women, peace and security in Africa for the first time – recognising the role that women can play in solving conflict and contributing to peace. She also spearheaded the creation of the AU regional programme on women’s economic and political empowerment.
Bineta Diop, special envoy for women, peace and security in Africa, African Union
Bineta Diop was recently appointed as the special envoy for women, peace and security in Africa. She has been a champion for women affected by conflict on the African continent, and at the forefront of efforts to empower women in Africa, for many years through her work at Femmes Africa Solidarité. Her role is particularly critical in ensuring that the voices of women and the vulnerable communities are heard during peace-building and conflict-resolution negotiations.
Kcee - Hakuna Matata
New video from Mr. Limpopo KCEE
100 things that you did not know about Africa - Nos.1 - 25
1. The human race is of African origin. The oldest known skeletal remains of anatomically modern humans (or homo sapiens) were excavated at sites in East Africa. Human remains were discovered at Omo in Ethiopia that were dated at 195,000 years old, the oldest known in the world.
2. Skeletons of pre-humans have been found in Africa that date back between 4 and 5 million years. The oldest known ancestral type of humanity is thought to have been the australopithecus ramidus, who lived at least 4.4 million years ago.
3. Africans were the first to organise fishing expeditions 90,000 years ago. At Katanda, a region in northeastern Zaïre (now Congo), was recovered a finely wrought series of harpoon points, all elaborately polished and barbed. Also uncovered was a tool, equally well crafted, believed to be a dagger. The discoveries suggested the existence of an early aquatic or fishing based culture.
4. Africans were the first to engage in mining 43,000 years ago. In 1964 a hematite mine was found in Swaziland at Bomvu Ridge in the Ngwenya mountain range. Ultimately 300,000 artefacts were recovered including thousands of stone-made mining tools. Adrian Boshier, one of the archaeologists on the site, dated the mine to a staggering 43,200 years old.
5. Africans pioneered basic arithmetic 25,000 years ago. The Ishango bone is a tool handle with notches carved into it found in the Ishango region of Zaïre (now called Congo) near Lake Edward. The bone tool was originally thought to have been over 8,000 years old, but a more sensitive recent dating has given dates of 25,000 years old. On the tool are 3 rows of notches. Row 1 shows three notches carved next to six, four carved next to eight, ten carved next to two fives and finally a seven. The 3 and 6, 4 and 8, and 10 and 5, represent the process of doubling. Row 2 shows eleven notches carved next to twenty-one notches, and nineteen notches carved next to nine notches. This represents 10 + 1, 20 + 1, 20 - 1 and 10 - 1. Finally, Row 3 shows eleven notches, thirteen notches, seventeen notches and nineteen notches. 11, 13, 17 and 19 are the prime numbers between 10 and 20.
6. Africans cultivated crops 12,000 years ago, the first known advances in agriculture. Professor Fred Wendorf discovered that people in Egypt’s Western Desert cultivated crops of barley, capers, chick-peas, dates, legumes, lentils and wheat. Their ancient tools were also recovered. There were grindstones, milling stones, cutting blades, hide scrapers, engraving burins, and mortars and pestles.
7. Africans mummified their dead 9,000 years ago. A mummified infant was found under the Uan Muhuggiag rock shelter in south western Libya. The infant was buried in the foetal position and was mummified using a very sophisticated technique that must have taken hundreds of years to evolve. The technique predates the earliest mummies known in Ancient Egypt by at least 1,000 years. Carbon dating is controversial but the mummy may date from 7438 (±220) BC.
8. Africans carved the world’s first colossal sculpture 7,000 or more years ago. The Great Sphinx of Giza was fashioned with the head of a man combined with the body of a lion. A key and important question raised by this monument was: How old is it? In October 1991 Professor Robert Schoch, a geologist from Boston University, demonstrated that the Sphinx was sculpted between 5000 BC and 7000 BC, dates that he considered conservative.
9. On the 1 March 1979, the New York Times carried an article on its front page also page sixteen that was entitled Nubian Monarchy called Oldest. In this article we were assured that: “Evidence of the oldest recognizable monarchy in human history, preceding the rise of the earliest Egyptian kings by several generations, has been discovered in artifacts from ancient Nubia” (i.e. the territory of the northern Sudan and the southern portion of modern Egypt.)
10. The ancient Egyptians had the same type of tropically adapted skeletal proportions as modern Black Africans. A 2003 paper appeared in American Journal of Physical Anthropology by Dr Sonia Zakrzewski entitled Variation in Ancient Egyptian Stature and Body Proportions where she states that: “The raw values in Table 6 suggest that Egyptians had the ‘super-Negroid’ body plan described by Robins (1983). The values for the brachial and crural indices show that the distal segments of each limb are longer relative to the proximal segments than in many ‘African’ populations.”
11. The ancient Egyptians had Afro combs. One writer tells us that the Egyptians “manufactured a very striking range of combs in ivory: the shape of these is distinctly African and is like the combs used even today by Africans and those of African descent.”
12. The Funerary Complex in the ancient Egyptian city of Saqqara is the oldest building that tourists regularly visit today. An outer wall, now mostly in ruins, surrounded the whole structure. Through the entrance are a series of columns, the first stone-built columns known to historians. The North House also has ornamental columns built into the walls that have papyrus-like capitals. Also inside the complex is the Ceremonial Court, made of limestone blocks that have been quarried and then shaped. In the centre of the complex is the Step Pyramid, the first of 90 Egyptian pyramids.
13. The first Great Pyramid of Giza, the most extraordinary building in history, was a staggering 481 feet tall - the equivalent of a 40-storey building. It was made of 2.3 million blocks of limestone and granite, some weighing 100 tons.
14. The ancient Egyptian city of Kahun was the world’s first planned city. Rectangular and walled, the city was divided into two parts. One part housed the wealthier inhabitants – the scribes, officials and foremen. The other part housed the ordinary people. The streets of the western section in particular, were straight, laid out on a grid, and crossed each other at right angles. A stone gutter, over half a metre wide, ran down the centre of every street.
15. Egyptian mansions were discovered in Kahun - each boasting 70 rooms, divided into four sections or quarters. There was a master’s quarter, quarters for women and servants, quarters for offices and finally, quarters for granaries, each facing a central courtyard. The master’s quarters had an open court with a stone water tank for bathing. Surrounding this was a colonnade.
16 The Labyrinth in the Egyptian city of Hawara with its massive layout, multiple courtyards, chambers and halls, was the very largest building in antiquity. Boasting three thousand rooms, 1,500 of them were above ground and the other 1,500 were underground.
17. Toilets and sewerage systems existed in ancient Egypt. One of the pharaohs built a city now known as Amarna. An American urban planner noted that: “Great importance was attached to cleanliness in Amarna as in other Egyptian cities. Toilets and sewers were in use to dispose waste. Soap was made for washing the body. Perfumes and essences were popular against body odour. A solution of natron was used to keep insects from houses … Amarna may have been the first planned ‘garden city’.”
18. Sudan has more pyramids than any other country on earth - even more than Egypt. There are at least 223 pyramids in the Sudanese cities of Al Kurru, Nuri, Gebel Barkal and Meroë. They are generally 20 to 30 metres high and steep sided.
19. The Sudanese city of Meroë is rich in surviving monuments. Becoming the capital of the Kushite Empire between 590 BC until AD 350, there are 84 pyramids in this city alone, many built with their own miniature temple. In addition, there are ruins of a bath house sharing affinities with those of the Romans. Its central feature is a large pool approached by a flight of steps with waterspouts decorated with lion heads.
20. Bling culture has a long and interesting history. Gold was used to decorate ancient Sudanese temples. One writer reported that: “Recent excavations at Meroe and Mussawwarat es-Sufra revealed temples with walls and statues covered with gold leaf”.
21. In around 300 BC, the Sudanese invented a writing script that had twenty-three letters of which four were vowels and there was also a word divider. Hundreds of ancient texts have survived that were in this script. Some are on display in the British Museum.
22. In central Nigeria, West Africa’s oldest civilisation flourished between 1000 BC and 300 BC. Discovered in 1928, the ancient culture was called the Nok Civilisation, named after the village in which the early artefacts were discovered. Two modern scholars, declare that “[a]fter calibration, the period of Nok art spans from 1000 BC until 300 BC”. The site itself is much older going back as early as 4580 or 4290 BC.
23. West Africans built in stone by 1100 BC. In the Tichitt-Walata region of Mauritania, archaeologists have found “large stone masonry villages” that date back to 1100 BC. The villages consisted of roughly circular compounds connected by “well-defined streets”.
24. By 250 BC, the foundations of West Africa’s oldest cities were established such as Old Djenné in Mali.
25. Kumbi Saleh, the capital of Ancient Ghana, flourished from 300 to 1240 AD. Located in modern day Mauritania, archaeological excavations have revealed houses, almost habitable today, for want of renovation and several storeys high. They had underground rooms, staircases and connecting halls. Some had nine rooms. One part of the city alone is estimated to have housed 30,000 people.
By Robin Walker
Robin Walkers book When we ruled is one of the best books Africans and African Diaspora can use firstly as a introduction to African history and secondly a good source to become proficient with precolonial African history.
Yaa Asantewaa (c. 1840 - 1917) was the warrior Queen of the Ashanti Empire located in modern-day Ghana. In 1900 she led a rebellion, known as the War of the Golden Stool, against the British colonizers. In a meeting of the members of the Ashanti government some of the men were hesitant to fight the British. Yaa Asantewaa was appalled and declared “If you, the men of Asante, will not go forward, then we will. We, the women, will. I shall call upon my fellow women. We will fight! We will fight till the last of us falls in the battlefields!” The revolt inevitably proved unsuccessful and Yaa Asantewaa was exiled to Seychelles where she lived for the rest of her life.
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Images collected by Lars during a trip to Kumasi.
According to the World Bank report, “Women and Trade in Africa: Realizing the Potential”, eliminating gender-specific barriers can help boost trade and increase productivity in Africa. Behind the research for this report were women who shared their personal stories of how they overcame gender discrimination at work in order to realize their potential.
After being thrown out of her house, Mary from Tanzania started her own company and now has over 300 clients internationally. Mary employs hundreds of women and is planning to start a training institution designed specifically for women.
Charity from Kenya secretly applied for college – against her family’s wishes – to pursue a degree in Tourism. Tourism in Kenya brings in over $1 billion annually, directly provides over 300,000 jobs and accounts for 12.5% of the country’s GDP. Despite the pressure to do otherwise, Charity took advantage of the opportunity to benefit from the sector and is now a park ranger.
This short film, Mind the Gap: Gender Equality and Trade in Africa, follows these women as they share their experiences taking advantage of trade opportunities and tapping into foreign markets.
What Really Happened in the Congo: Belgium’s ‘Heart of Darkness’
Leopold famously said when he was forced to hand over the Congo Free State to the Belgian nation: “I will give them my Congo but they have no right to know what I have done there,” and proceeded to burn archives.
Did y’all know about this?
we talked about this a little in my history class but jesus
Never mentioned in my history classes (I’m from Texas) I wonder why? (Sarcasm)
The African Union (AU) has resolved to cancel the European Union-AU Summit scheduled for Brussels, Belgium, in April this year if President Mugabe is not invited, thereby setting the stage for the EU to climb down on its punitive stance on Zimbabwe.
Leaders who attended the 22nd Ordinary Session of the AU General Assembly, which ended in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Friday, also agreed that the continent should take control of its natural resources and not allow foreigners to dictate their exploitation.
The leaders also resolved to realign theeducation systems of African countries with policies that promote entrepreneurial skills and job-creation.
Addressing journalists soon after arriving back home from the AU Summit yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said the African Heads of State and Government elected not to attend the EU-AU interface if the Europeans do not invite Mugabe.
He said it was “absolute madness” for the bloc to exclude the President, especially after his election as AU First Deputy Chairperson. He added that the AU Commission has been tasked with ensuring that every leader is invited to Brussels.
“We were never in any doubt that they were going to climb down and capitulate. We do not even know why they decided to try this in the first place because they tried it before and they were forced to capitulate.
“And it seems they have very short memories: they tried it again this time. Of course, Africa took a very firm position to say if President Mugabe is not invited to this Summit, then there will be no Summit because no African Head of State was going to attend a Summit where President Mugabe is being excluded.i
It would be best if this summit didn’t happen at all.