By John Iliffe
This background of Africa from the origins of mankind to the South African basic election of 1994 refocuses African historical past at the peopling of an environmentally opposed continent. The social, financial and political associations of the African continent have been designed to make sure survival and maximize numbers, yet within the context of scientific growth and different twentieth-century ideas those associations have bred the main quick inhabitants progress the realm has ever noticeable. The heritage of the continent is hence a unmarried tale binding dwelling Africans to the earliest human ancestors.
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Extra resources for Africans: The History of a Continent (African Studies)
The staple crops that came to be used were not cereals but yams and bananas, which leave few archaeological traces. Foraging had a long history in the forest, but the first indication of more settled life is the appearance of pottery over 7,000 years ago at Shum Laka in the Cameroun grassfields, close to the forest edge. This did not necessarily imply agriculture; neither did the appearance a millennium later of ground-stone axes or the exploitation of oil-palms from the fourth millennium bc. Linguistic evidence suggests that P1: RNK 0521864381 c02 CUNY780B-African 16 978 0 521 68297 8 May 15, 2007 15:22 africans: the history of a continent yams may also have been exploited, and possibly cultivated, throughout this period, but this has not yet been demonstrated archaeologically.
By about 3000 bc, Bantu speakers with stone tools, pottery, and common words for yam and oil-palm were probably moving slowly down the western equatorial coast. They reached the Libreville area of modern Gabon by 1800 bc and continued at least as far as the Congo estuary. As they did so, some broke away inland through the forest to reach the middle Ogooue Valley by about 1600 bc and the upper river by 400 bc. Others penetrated to the River Congo, where some slowly colonised the tributaries leading into the inner Congo basin from about 400 bc, while others moved more quickly up the main waterways until, at about 1000 bc, they reached the eastern edge of the equatorial forest in the broad area of the great East African lakes.
Ritual was seen in magical terms. Yet significant religious change did take place. Among the many gods of the Egyptian pantheon, the sun god was chiefly responsible for the maintenance of cosmological order and gradually gained preeminence. Early in the New Kingdom, the sun god became associated with an invisible and ubiquitous deity, Amun, around whom the priests at the great temple at Thebes began to construct a theology. Both drawing on this and reacting against it, the Pharaoh Akhenaten (1364–1347 bc) instituted a monotheistic state cult of the sun-disc (Aten), a worship of light to be approached only by sharing the king’s vision.