Cetshwayo’s name is not as well known as that of his uncle Shaka.  Shaka had managed to turn the small Zulu tribe into the powerful Zulu nation before being assassinated by his brothers.  Cetshwayo, who officially ruled from 1873 to 1879, was confronted with the might of the British Empire and history records him as …

  • August 16, 2020
  • South Africa
  • Comments Off on The Last Independent Zulu King

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From 1975 to 2002, Angola fought the last Cold War proxy conflict, a conflict that outlasted the ideological struggle funding the battles. On 10 August 2001, buried under the history of the massive shock of the 9/11 attacks just one month later the Angola Train Massacre was one of the most horrific atrocities committed in …

  • August 10, 2020
  • Comments Off on The Train at the End of the War

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The first of Portugal’s African colonies was also the first to gain independence.  It was not, unfortunately, a smooth road to freedom. Most of the trade in Portuguese Guinea was controlled by a single group – Companhia Uniao Fabril – and their subsidiary companies.  One of those subsidiaries, Casa Gouveia, controlled the docks.  And Casa …

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On 27 July 1948, Dorothea Bleek died. Dorothea had followed in her father’s footsteps, documenting the culture, language, and thousands-of-years-old rock art of Southern Africa.  And although Dorothea continued to demur to her father’s expertise throughout her life, it was her books that brought the San to the attention of more academics.  Her book, A …

  • July 27, 2020
  • History
  • Comments Off on Disappearing People, Disappearing History

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The San people of Southern Africa first really came to the world’s attention in the 1950s with a miniseries and a book by Laurens van der Post titled The Lost World of the Kalahari.  Of course, Africans weren’t unknown in the world – not only had the trans-Atlantic slave trade forcefully and violently moved people …

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The Gambia is an interesting place.  It was a part of both the Mali and Songhai Empires.  Ibn Battuta visited in the 1300s and had lovely things to say about the justice-minded people who lived there.  It’s nearly completely surrounded by Senegal.  And it is littered with stone circles resembling versions of Stonehenge.  Not much …

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On 22 July 1994, a group of junior officers in the Gambian National Army, led by Yahya Jammeh, staged a disorganized and badly planned coup and somehow managed to end up in control of the nation of the Gambia.  That is how the longest lasting democracy in West Africa came to an end; and even …

  • July 19, 2020
  • Gambia
  • Comments Off on A Holiday For an Abandoned Revolution

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There is something intriguing about Ethiopia.  The only Jewish nation in Africa, mentioned in the Bible in the person of the legendary Makeda, the Queen of Sheba. It was Makeda’s son Menilek I who founded the Solomonic Dynasty that ruled Ethiopia, with an interruption of a few hundred years in the Middle Ages, until 1974. …

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“Natives must be taught from an early age that equality with Europeans is not for them,” Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd, author of the Bantu Education Act.  In 1971, sociologist Dr Melville Edelstein, who devoted 18 years of his life to working in Soweto to improve conditions, wrote a book called “What Young Africans Think,” about the …

  • June 18, 2020
  • Comments Off on When the Children Led

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