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World History II

07 Sep 2017History Essays

When we talk about Africa, the first thing that comes into the picture is a very poor, undeveloped country. It is closely associated with very high cases of poverty and malnourished people, of overpopulated and illiterate societies. In this paper, we tell you about it. These were the images imprinted in the minds of those who never actually experienced Africa, who never knew what existed before the European settlers came. The time before the slave trades was a different story. It is far from the mental picture being created every time we think of Africa. It is far from the European description of Africans as uncivilized people.

The misconception of most people saying that Africans were uncivilized people was brought about by the European settlers who "captured" and "tamed" the black slaves that they are trading. It is true that these Africans cannot speak the English language, or wear the "formal" clothes that the Europeans wore. These weren't enough reason for them to be branded "uncivilized." Way back in 1500s, there were already various accounts of African interaction with other people. They have engaged in trade with other tribes and other countries as well. They lived in a prosperous time, with the abundance of food and natural resources. They have established leaderships through their tribes' kings, which can already be a sign of being civilized. They have established towns and residential areas which are populated by that time. These facts are more than enough reason to say that these Africans were already civilized, even before these Europeans came and took away all their lives and their possessions (Craig, Graham, Kagan, Ozment, & Turner, 2005).

Even before these Europeans came, the Africans already have their own culture, followed their own society and lived their own lives. With the intervention of these European colonizers and slave drivers, everything has changed for them. High class African tribesmen were mixed with regular tribe members, and they were all treated equally – as lowlife, black slaves. These misconceptions about Africans have existed in a long time, where even in this time, some people still think wrongly about these people.

Many people, who think that the Africans were uncivilized before the European settlers came, were generally misguided. There wasn't much account on how these "black slaves" lived before they were shipped in different parts of the west. It was unintentional for those who don't know anything about the lives of these African people before they came here. There wasn't enough information about them, and by word of mouth, people eventually came up with the idea that these slaves were uneducated, uncivilized people from Africa. It wasn't long since that idea on African has spread even into neighboring countries, mainly because these African slaves are being traded.

It is important to keep the people from knowing much about the origins of these Africans. It was convenient for the slave traders to brand them uncivilized, in order to justify their actions. It was also a perception of colonizers that upon entering or "founding" of a new land, they are the ones to fight the "savages," and in this case, it was the Africans who were branded savages and uncivilized people. It is a tendency to dehumanize those who were being colonized so that what the colonizers did was for a good cause, rather than an evil intention. Europeans kept on believing that Africans were inferior because they are the main players in the slave trade. No slave should be held higher or as the same level as their masters. Through this, they are able to maintain a monopoly of these people, without arousing theses Africans to overpower their masters. It is all to keep the relationship between slaves and masters.

Reference:

  • Craig, A. M., Graham, W. A., Kagan, D., Ozment, S. M., & Turner, F. M. (2005). The Heritage of World Civilizations: Volume Two since 1500 (7th ed.): Prentice Hall.

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