Monday, October 24, 2016


“A Female Approach to Peacekeeping”[i] by New York Times reporter Doreen Carvajal illustrates the leaps and bounds taken by women globally in peacekeeping operations especially in the West African nation of Liberia currently headed by Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf-an astute woman who is known by the nickname “Iron Lady”.  According to the writer, women started pioneering in peacekeeping missions during the Balkan Wars of the 90s and their numbers continue to skyrocket. By the time the article was written in 2010, the Head of the U.N. Mission in Liberia was Ellen Margrethe Loj of Denmark, a woman who was dedicated to the preservation of peace and nation building in countries ravaged by wars. By then, Nigeria and India were the leading contributors of women peacekeepers in the world.

According to figures released by the U.N., women are edging closer to men in peacekeeping missions. In the past five years alone, the number of female police officers serving U.N. peacekeeping operations around the world doubled with Liberia and Darfur taking the lead. Of the 12,867 men and women serving U.N. peacekeeping missions around the world as police officers, women account for roughly 6% or stand at 833.  Of the 1,159 peacekeepers from Nigeria currently in Liberia, 5% or 59 are women. The need for the service of women in peacekeeping activities has gone global. Women account for 14% of the 1,354 peacekeepers in Liberia.

Men peacekeepers tend to behave better when women peacekeepers are present. Since women peacekeepers started arriving in Liberia, crimes like armed robberies, rape of women and girls, child molestations, and other types of startling transgressions have been considerably reduced with the help of the locals. After a long day patrolling the dusty streets of Monrovia, Syalus Maharana, an Indian operations commander, spends an hour of her time to mother her child in India by telling bedtime stories via video conferencing.

Even though women peacekeepers suffer nostalgia and depression during their tenure of duties overseas, to the locals they remain intimidating and sober. The major endearing factor driving women to such strenuous peacekeeping missions is the appealing financial opportunities offered by the U.N.  

Having marked the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day on March 8, the United Nations is intensifying its recruitment efforts by finding more women for its global peacekeeping missions. For many poor countries, contributing women peacekeepers to the U.N. global peace efforts means added value in terms of moneymaking. As it already pledged, the nation of Bangladesh is expected to dispatch a new unit of women peacekeepers to the U.N. peace initiatives. Thus, we learn from this story that women peacekeepers are as effective and efficient as their male counterparts in global peacekeeping operations if not profoundly more effective and that the demand for women peacekeepers will rise in the future.

Sunday, October 16, 2016


A great king ruled Mali from 1312 to 1337 and his name was Mansa Musa. Crowned “Mansa”-meaning “king of Kings”- Mansa Musa was the grand-nephew of Sundiata. A Muslim himself, Mansa Musa embarked on the greatest Islamic pilgrimage by caravan ever recorded in history between the years 1324-1325 in a journey spanning thousands of miles through the stretch of the massive and expansive Sahara desert. Reputedly the most lavish pilgrimage in the world, Mansa Musa’s entourage carried 100 camel-loads of gold, each weighing 300 pounds; 500 slaves, each carrying a 4-lb. gold staff; thousands of his subjects; as well as his senior wife, with her 500 attendants. 

According to Arab historian Al-Umari, Mansa Musa and his retinue gave out so much gold such that the value of gold in Egypt drastically fell rendering the Egyptian economy in decline for many years. Al-Umari further states that Mansa Musa had to borrow from well-wishers at usurious interest rates for his return journey to Mali. In return, Mansa Musa brought back with him an Arabic library, religious scholars, and most importantly the renowned Muslim architect al-Sahili who built him a majestic royal palace and two great mosques at Gao and Timbuktu. In the aftermath of Mansa Musa’s travel to Mecca and Cairo, the Kingdom Mali became a center for commerce, education, and trade followed by diplomatic exchanges with Morocco and other Islamic nations. Mali enjoyed remarkable peace, stability, and profound prosperity for the forty-seven years between the time of his grandfather’s brother, Sundiata, and his accession to the throne. Mansa Musa ruled the Kingdom of Mali for twenty-five years finally leaving the political spectrum in 1337 when he died of natural causes. [i]

According to E.W. Bovill, author of The Golden Trade of Moors (1958), Mansa Musa’s kingdom was "remarkable both for its extent and for its wealth and a striking example of the capacity of the Negro for political organization". [ii]

[i] Roland Oliver, the African Experience: Major Themes in African History from Earliest Times to the Present, HarperCollins, 1993.

[ii] Edward William Bovill, The Golden Trade of the Moors: West African Kingdoms in the Fourteenth Century, Marcus Wiener; 2 edition (January 1995).


In the first half of the thirteenth century, a notable king by the name Sumaoro Kante of the Ghana Empire, ruled over the populous Mandinka tribe of Mali against their wishes. The Ghana Empire or the Wagadou Empire lasted from c. 790 until 1235 of the Common Era. The Mandinka remained in a state of bondage and helplessness until a powerful prince by the name Sundiata returned from exile thus becoming the undisputed celebrated hero of the Malinke people of West Africa. Known for his courage and unmatched vigor in battle, the Lion Prince as he was called, Sundiata, remained remarkable in his pursuit of leadership even while away from home in exile. By forging judicious alliances with local rulers, Sundiata assembled a large army comprising mostly cavalry and by 1235 his sphere of influence encompassed the modern states of Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, and Sierra Leone

After overthrowing the Kingdom of Ghana, Sundiata governed from his capital city Niani that featured buildings of brick and stone. His Malian kingdom controlled and taxed the trade caravans passing through West Africa. Often, caravans as many as twenty-five thousand camels heavily-loaded with miscellaneous cargo traversed the trade routes. The cities of Gao, Timbuktu, Jenne, and Niani became important trading centers populated by indigenous people and merchants in pursuit of the gold trade. Under Sundiata, Mali immensely profited from the trans-Sahara trade such that it benefited far more than Ghana did in the past. Malian rulers practiced Islam and provided security, accommodation, and luxuries to Muslim travelers from further up north. Sundiata reigned from 1230 to 1255 of the Common Era. In terms of sphere of influence, the Mali kingdom was the second largest kingdom in size in Africa (1.1 million sq km), with the Kingdom of Songhai being the first and the most extensive in land mass totaling 1.4 million square kilometers.


The history of generosity to foreigners in Africa goes along way. In 1331, Ibn Battuta, a learned Moroccan traveler, Islamic jurist and scholar, during a visit to Mogadishu, was accorded the best form of hospitality by being fed, clothed, and entertained for free. Perhaps, had he paid visit to any European land, he would either have been held captive as a slave indefinitely or he would have been killed right away. In his famous Rihla or travels, Ibn Battuta reported, “we stayed there for three days, food being brought to us three times a day, following their custom. On the fourth day, which was a Friday, the qadi and students and one of the sheikh’s viziers came to me, bringing a set of robes, these [official] robes of theirs consist of a silk wrapper which one ties round his waist in place of drawers (for they have no acquaintance with these), a tunic of Egyptian linen with an embroidered border, a furred mantle of Jerusalem stuff, and an Egyptian turban with an embroidered edge. They also brought robes for my companions suitable to their position. We went to the congregational mosque and made our prayers behind the maqsura [private box for the sultan]. When the sheikh came out of the maqsura I saluted him along with the qadi; he said a word of greeting, spoke in their tongue with the qadi, and then said in Arabic “you are heartily welcome, and you have honored our land and given us pleasure.” [i]

Ibn Battuta’s hosts never turned out to be the apes, beasts, and baboons recorded in many obnoxious European accounts of Africa. Instead, he found people who were resilient, affectionate, modern, and perceptive of travelers’ needs, punctilious, and above all religious and not blasphemous as the Europeans would have us believe. Ibn Battuta was a guest to a Somali sheikh (Islamic scholar) and a qadi (magistrate) both of who observed all the values, creeds, and customs of Islamic way of life especially in reference to etiquettes relating to hosting guests or visitors. Even before disembarking ship, Ibn Battuta and his companions or crew, were accorded a high degree of respect on board ship. Ibn Battuta was accorded the respect reserved for a doctor of the law. He became a guest of the sheikh and not the guest of an ordinary man or woman. Born in Tangiers, Morocco in the year 1304 C.E., Ibn Battuta descended from the Lawati Berber tribe in a family of lawyers and judges. The full name of this dedicated lone-traveler was Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Abdullah Al Lawati Al Tanji Ibn Battuta; he died about 1368 or 1369. In a period spanning 29 years, Ibn Battuta covered approximately 75,000 miles by ship and on dhows, on horseback, on foot, and riding donkeys and camels to mostly Muslim lands. He traveled three times the distance covered by the celebrated European discoverer and explorer Marco Polo!

In reference to past African political organizations, contemporary scholars and writers often use the terms stateless society and segmentary society. Far from the truth, Africans enjoyed elaborate hierarchy of officials and bureaucratic apparatus in the management of their daily affairs. Between the years 800-1500 C.E., great kingdoms, empires, and city-states flourished in sub-Saharan Africa with scrupulous trade routes traversing the massive Sahara desert culminating in the profusion of immense wealth to West Africa, North Africa, Middle East, and Europe in what came known as the trans-Sahara trade routes. Whether in the coastal plains or in the lush hinterlands, Africans executed complex and organized central governments ruled by powerful kings with administrative divisions overseen by prominent figures representing the head of state.

Long before the birth of Islam, a mighty kingdom existed in Ghana (not related to the modern state of Ghana). Even before the Islamic Hijra in 622 C.E. (Common Era), as many as twenty-two kings ruled Ghana. As reported by Al-Bakri, a mid-eleventh century Spanish-Cordovan traveler, the seat of the Kingdom of Ghana was at Koumbi-Saleh-a flourishing city containing elaborate buildings and over a dozen mosques. During its height of power—from the ninth to the twelfth century—as many as fifteen thousand to twenty thousand people populated the city of Koumbi-Saleh. [ii]

To maintain order in the kingdom and protect the city and the state from external aggression and to safeguard the trade routes from marauding hooligans and highway robbers, the Kingdom of Ghana had as many two-hundred thousand well-armed and well-trained armies of warriors. To support such a large army, the administration in Koumbi-Saleh levied taxes on trade caravans passing through the kingdom. During this period in time, the headwaters of the Niger, Gambia, and Senegal rivers contained the largest deposits of gold. The demand for economic development and dwindling resources in the eastern hemisphere lured merchants in the Mediterranean basin and the Islamic world to the vast resources that was available in the kingdom of Ghana. In exchange for gold and other precious minerals, trans-Saharan merchants from as far as Europe and Arabia brought in horses, cloth, manufactured wares, and salt-a crucial commodity that was in short supply in the tropics. Besides Koumbi-Saleh, other prominent trading towns were Timbuktu in present-day Mali, Gao, Jenne, and Niani. Never at time has the history of the African continent been contrasting as European explorers of the past envisaged. Instead, Africa enjoys a history full of intricate governance, distinct civilization, elaborate terra-cotta craftsmanship, magnificent trade routes and abundance of wealth, and endless stories.

[i] H.A.R. Gibb, trans. The Travels of Ibn Battuta, A.D. 1325-1354, 4 vols. Cambridge: Hakluyt Society, 1958-94, 2:374-77.

[ii] Jerry H. Bentley and Herbert F. Ziegler, Traditions and Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past, Volume 1: From the Beginning to 1500, The McGraw Hill Companies, Inc., 1221 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020, 388-89.

Friday, October 14, 2016


I. The book begins with the topic “Founding Factors” which describes the initial geological formation of the African continent.
A.    The book, Africa: a Biography of the Continent was written by John Reader, a white Anglo-Saxon male who is a journalist by profession and son of a London Taxi driver.
B.     The book is divided into eight parts and contains fifty-five chapters dispersed over seven hundred pages.
C.     The first chapter deals with the prehistory, geological formations, and fauna and flora of the continent.
D.    The author borrows leaf from Charles Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species published in 1859 to highlight the closeness of humans to chimpanzees in terms of DNA.
      II. Chapter seven begins with the discovery of Lucy who belongs to the taxon
      Australopithecus afarensis and discovered in the Afar region of Ethiopia.
A.    He explores the archaeological works of Mary Leakey and the discovery of footprints at Laetoli in Tanzania fossilized beneath showers of volcanic ash.
B.     He makes a comparison of the archaeological discoveries made in East Turkana in Kenya, those found in the sub-Saharan basin east of the Congo basin, and across the savanna woodlands of Central Africa to the arid southern borders of the Kalahari.
C.     In defining human quest for water, the author notes “the water content of a healthy 65 kg human is nearly 50 liters-enough to fill 150 Coca-Cola cans.”
D.    In 1984, German anthropologist Günter Brauer, in his publication “Afro-European sapiens hypothesis”, noted that anatomically modern humans from Africa were ancestral to all non-African populations and their modern descendants.
      III. Part III of the book explains how modern humans first migrated from Africa, about
           100,000 years ago.
A.    Researchers studying the ecology and behavior of the Mbuti pygmies of the Ituri rainforest in Eastern Zaire stumbled upon striking similarities in food gathering and social behavior among the Mbuti bands and groups of chimpanzees in the Gombe forest. 
B.     Population limitations have been defining factors among human and animal populations since time immemorial.
C.     Climate played a major role and a significant factor in the history of the human species though not a primary causative factor in the evolution of new species.
D.    The earliest-known centrally organized food production system was established along the Nile 15,000 years ago-long before the Pharaohs.
      IV. Part IV deals with the history of African civilizations beginning with the hierarchies
            of Egyptian Pharaohs and their influence and exploitation of sub-Saharan
A.    The Periplus of the Erythraen Sea is a mariner’s handbook that dates from the first century AD with the author devoting only four paragraphs or 450 words to the vast regions that lay beyond the Horn of Africa.
B.     The rise of the Aksumite kingdom in the fourth and the fifth centuries in the Horn of Africa and the development of Africa’s only indigenous written Ge’ez script give thrust for the development of a literate civilization that traded with Egypt, the eastern Mediterranean, and Arabia.
C.     “Cities without Citadels” is in reference to the historical civilizations that thrived in the Niger delta.
D.    The stone walls of Zimbabwe, built by indigenous peoples between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries AD, are stone-walled enclosures that number 300 scattered all over Zimbabwe though the oldest and the largest, Great Zimbabwe, derived from the Shona language dzimba dzemabwe meaning “houses of stone”, is given greater historical preference by historians, anthropologists, and archaeologists alike. 
      V. Part V of the book unleashes a wide-ranging historical view of European influence of
           Africa, slavery and slave trade, and the “Scramble for Africa”.
A.    According to the book, the Portuguese were the first to infiltrate Africa in search of slaves though they were preceded by the Arabs and the Chinese.
B.     The pioneering voyage of Vasco da Gama opened a path for Portuguese consolidation of Africa.
C.     Without thinking the wider implications and long-term consequences, African slave traders sold their brothers, their cousins and their neighbors making them prosperous entrepreneurs instantly.
D.    The craving for firearms by African chiefs created a torturous litany of devastation upon the African continent.
VI. King Leopold II of Belgium was the architect of the “Scramble for Africa” in 1884.
A.    European imperial ambition of Africa progressed with David Livingstone’s discovery of Lake Victoria and his criss-crossing of Africa in 1841 and 1873 respectively and the dispatching of Henry Morton Stanley by the New York Herald to search for the missing Livingstone.
B.      In the Berlin Conference of 1884, no African was invited as a participant or as observer.
C.     This conference divided Africa along ethnic, cultural, and social units.
D.    The Berlin Conference created bitter resistance and rebellion by Africans to European colonialism and imperial rule.
VII. The creation of educational institutions by the colonialists saw the emergence of African
        elites who fought for the self-determination of their people.
A.    The Second World II signaled the end of colonialism thus becoming the forerunner for African independence.
B.     The October 1960 United Nations General Assembly resolution declared that “unpreparedness should not be a pretext for delaying independence” for Africa.
C.     By 1965 the number of independent states in Africa had risen to thirty-eight with another seven added in the ten years to 1975.
D.    The winds of history have seen Africa undergo disastrous civil wars and harrowing experiences that continue to afflict the continent to this day.


Summarized herein in the form of an essay is a review of two books written by two distinguished authors of European origin. The books, Eternal Egypt: the Civilization of Egypt from Earliest Times to Conquest by Alexander the Great[i] by Frenchman Pierre Montet translated from the original French by Doreen Weightman and Africa: a Biography of the Continent[ii] by Anglo-Saxon, John Reader.

In his book, Africa: A Biography of the Continent, John Reader, eulogizes the prevalence of domesticated plants and animals, technological innovation, the establishment of villages and increasing level of social interdependence in the now empty and waterless Sahara desert even before the pyramids were built (Reader, p. 151). On the other hand, he articulately and meritoriously adduces evidences regarding the cultivation of food-crops such as wheat, barley, peas, and lentils along the Nile River despite these crops being cultivated earlier some 9,000 years ago in the “fertile crescent” of the Near East in reference to “the land between the two rivers”, formerly in the ancient nation of Mesopotamia and currently in the modern state of Iraq. Thus, cultivation of indigenous African plants did not begin in Egypt but rather in the south, an indication of the ancient nation of Nubia. Nubia, a vast land straddling the Nile valley to the south of Egypt was once a colony of Egypt. Both authors unanimously confirm the colonization of Nubia by Egypt. Pierre Montet further explicates how Nubians had their own form of arts and crafts and at the same time borrowed Egyptian artistic traditions (Montet, p. 118).[iii]

Rich in natural resources, Nubia was, for over 1,000 years, a major supplier of gold, ivory, timber, animal products, and slaves to Egypt until the emergence of powerful Nubian rulers who instituted a centralized authority that would have severe repercussions on the dwindling pharaonic empires. The arrival of powerful invading Assyrian armies wielding weapons of iron[iv] eventually led to the collapse of the once powerful Cushitic kingdom in Nubia. Both authors acknowledge the majesty of the civilization that thrived in Meroe. “Yet the Kingdom of Meroe can be given credit for having carried Egyptian civilization further south than the pharaohs themselves had ever succeeded in doing”, says so Pierre Montet [v] while John Reader concludes its downfall accordingly: “Meroe was effectively an expression of Egyptian civilization rooted in what the pharaohs had called the land of punt-indigenous black Africa.” [vi]

The absence of genuine documentation, as Montet claims, is convincing evidence that Egyptians did not reach the confluence of the two Niles. Perhaps, by the two Niles, the author is referring to the two tributaries the Blue Nile originating at Lake Tana in Ethiopia and the White Nile which originates in Lake Victoria and is at the confluence of the Bahr al-Ghazal and Bahr al-Jabel Rivers.

At least the two authors agree on the name “punt” to which they separately refer to as “the land of the God” (Montet, p. 120) and “God’s land” (Reader, p. 196). On the contrary, the authors fail to agree on the exact location of punt in our modern world map. Pierre Montet suggestively assumes the location of punt to have been in the Bay of Hafun figuratively pointing it to the south of Cape Guardafui. In a nutshell, he is of the view that the incense-bearing tree Queen Hatshepsut sought after to exploit is plentifully found in Africa and Arabia Felix respectively.

Pierre Montet, despite employing persuasive historical and scientific research methodologies gained from his many years of distinguished career as an Egyptologist and his accumulated experience during work at the German Archaeological Institute of Berlin, fails to garner convincing consensus to uncovering the validity of the Land of Punt. He implausibly postulates two unrelated localities and as a final point fails to make amends with the reader. In their pursuit of literary reputation, no wonder, many writers tend to huggermugger. On the contrary, John Reader, relying on available evidence, easily recapitulates without making mangled assumptions by placing the location of punt “between the Red Sea and the southern Kordofan province of the Sudan.”[vii] Several African tribes and states lay claim to the historical Cush kingdom.

Most notably, Somalis, Amhara, Tigre, Nubians, Oromo, and Sudanese-Arabs place profound hereditary and historical inclination to the Cushitic kingdom of old. Currently, in the modern state of Somalia, there is a region known as Puntland located on the eastern corner of Somalia bordering the Red Sea and closest the Gulf of Aden where frankincense and myrrh -the two most prominent products sought after by ancient Egyptian pharaohs abundantly grow in the wild to this day.
Whichever claim is true; our reliance on historical inscriptions found in the tombs and pyramids of Nubia and Egypt and information gathered from archeological excavations should be enough to serve as concrete and compelling evidence for the moment simply for educational purposes until novel exposures reveal otherwise in the future. What amuses the skeptical reader is the paragraph in John Reader’s book that states, “the concept of the Nile as a corridor through which the civilizing influence were conveyed to sub-Saharan Africa is the basis of an essentially Eurocentric interpretation of African history, implying that Africans were incapable of developing their own versions of civilization. It has an appealing simplicity, but is contradicted by the evidence.”[viii] (Reader, p.195). 

In one way one or the other, the author himself seems not to the point as regards whether Africans were civilized or not. The judge who could arbitrate on the flimsy and much-debated issue of who-was-who in African civilization is the infant and tender baby archeology whose distinct brushes and micro-blades have failed to go beyond the borders of America, North Africa, and Europe. John Reader reports that, according to the high official Henu, the expedition was undertaken on behalf of Montuhotep III c.1975 BC. On the other hand, Pierre Montet states that the ships were built in Chaldea and that they “sailed down the Euphrates to the Persian Gulf, went round the enormous Arabian Peninsula and eventually reached the land of Punt.”[ix] Reader tries to make a case in point by claiming the ship was carried piece by piece across 150 km of desert to the Red Sea coast. (Reader p. 196)

Cited Sources
[i] Pierre Montet, Eternal Egypt: The Civilization of Egypt from Earliest Times to Conquest by Alexander the Great, 5 Upper Saint Martin’s Lane, London WC2H 9EA
[ii] John Reader, Africa: A Biography of the Continent, Alfred A. Knopf, New York 1998
[iii] Ibid. (Montet, p. 118)
[iv] Ibid. (Reader 197)
[v] Ibid. (Montet, p. 120)
[vi] Ibid (Reader p. 199)
[vii] Ibid (Reader, p. 196)
[viii] Ibid (Reader p. 195)
[ix] Ibid (Monetet p. 124)


Eternal Egypt by Pierre Montet-Translated from the French by Doreen Weightman
      I. The first chapter begins with a description of the Nile valley in prehistoric times and the
         sweeping changes it has gone through until the arrival of the first Europeans.
A.    The oldest flora known to ancient Egyptians was the barley (iot) and emmer-wheat (boti).
B.     The most prominent tree par excellence that grew in the villages, at cross-roads, and on the edges of the desert was the sycamore.
C.     Famous Egyptian fauna in Neolithic times included the elephant, the giraffe, and the python.
D.    Egypt has been synonymous with plagues, epidemics, floods, locust invasions, lice, frogs, mosquitoes, flies, and hail in historical times.
      II. Traces of tools found in Egypt by geologists Sandford and Arkell date from early
          Abbevillian period to the Mousterian period. [1]
A.    The four races that lived in Egypt in prehistoric times were the remtu who were the Egyptians themselves, the Amu who had Asiatic features, the Nehesiu who were black and lived south of Egypt, and lastly the Timihu who lived west of Egypt and were closely related to the Asiatic in profile.
B.     Egypt was a meeting-point for different races in prehistoric times as can be seen in surviving statues that display different characteristics of human types.
C.     Though Egypt had her own dwarfs, the Kings and the rich brought extra dwarfs from the distant land of Punt.
D.    In terms of population numbers and according to Herodotus, there were twenty-thousand highly populated towns during the reign of Amasis. [2]
      III. In chapter 3, the author defines Pharaoh as a literal translation of the Egyptian expression
            Per-aa which is in reference to the great house or in other words pertaining to the royal
A.    Pharaonic kings were above ordinary mortals, mummification ceremonies took seventy days, and that coronation celebrations were signals for great rejoicing.
B.     Newly enthroned kings were crowned in the palace of the departed father until the new sovereign king constructed his own palace.
C.      Egyptian kings supervised the massive construction of the tombs that served as their final resting abodes.
D.    Egyptian dynasties experienced assassinations and plots.
      IV. Egyptian pharaohs considered themselves to be masters of two lands and that everything
            in Upper and Lower Egypt including people, livestock, buildings, lands, tools, and even
            furniture belonged to them.
A.    Kings of the Old Kingdom wielded considerable powers and oversaw powerful administrative systems.
B.     During the days when Egypt was divided into two parts, following the examples of the Greeks, the country experienced boundaries that came to be referred to as nomes each displaying a distinct emblem.
C.      As noted by Hesiod, Egyptians of his time made pictures and inscriptions of everyday work on their tombs symbolizing a kind of concrete encyclopedia of Egyptian life.[3]
D.    A distinct community who went about their work naked or wearing only a belt did most of the hunting and fishing in ancient Egypt.
      V. Besides the two lands-Upper and Lower Egypt, the Pharaoh was also the Sovereign of the
           Nine Bows-in reference to a confederation of peoples that fell under the domain of the
A.    The military resources of the Egyptians during the New Kingdom comprised of mercenaries and prisoners of war while Akhenaton’s personal bodyguards included Nubians, Libyans, and Syrians.
B.     Byblos which was part of the eastern nations was the most noteworthy trading partner of Egypt from the time Khasekhemui, the last king of the Second Dynasty, until the Ptolemaic era.
C.     In search of incense, Queen Hatshepsut sailed to the Land of Punt and returned with plenty of the product.
D.    Amazingly, during the Fifth Dynasty, the Greeks and Cretans lived primitive lives.
      VI. Ancient Egyptians had a variety of gods often shared by the array of nomes that
            subdivided the kingdoms.
A.    The most notable of these gods were Neith, Thoth, Hathor, Seth, Horus, Osiris, Amun-Ra and Ibis.
B.     Every important Egyptian god had altars managed by priests who upon their deaths were succeeded by their sons.
C.     Egyptian gods were responsible for the protection of their devotees against illness, against their enemies, and other external forces.
D.    The kings’ duties to the gods included building temples, seeing to their upkeep, and providing the means whereby the offering tables could be constantly replenished.
      VII. Because Egyptians worshipped the dead; they gave them all the necessary attention as
               they did for their kings.
A.    The intensification of funerary construction took greater strides at the beginning of the Third Dynasty as stone took the place of brick.
B.     The construction of mammoth pyramids dotted the Egyptian landscape in the Fifth and Sixth Dynasties with special attention given to the Valley of the Dead and the Valley of the Living.
C.     The tombs of the queens, high-ranking officials, and courtiers were low, smaller buildings that were smaller in dimensions.
D.    Ancient Egyptians conceived the idea of the judging of the dead before they were allowed entry into the next world.
      VIII. With the absence of writing on the Neolithic or Amratian tombs, the respected
               Author is of the view that hieroglyphic signs were invented as early as the Chalcolothic
A.    In ancient Egypt, the occupation of a scribe was the finest of all professions for scribes were employed in the temples, in the main administrative departments, in prisons, and in the offices of governors and magistrates.
B.     The first literary genre practiced by the Egyptians was the collections of ‘instructions’ first written by the professional writer Imhotep, now lost.
C.     According to the Greeks, ancient Egyptians were absolutely eloquent and remarkably versed in mathematics, astronomy, and medicine.
D.    Medical science was practiced at Memphis thus giving Egyptian doctors a high standing throughout the whole of the ancient world.
      IX. Ancient Egypt’s earliest known artist was Imhotep as architecture, sculpture, drawing,
            and design continued to evolve until his time.
A.    Enthusiastic patrons of the arts in the New Kingdom included Queen Hatshepsut, Amenophis III, Akhenaton, Seti I, and Ramses the Great.
B.     The names of the artists who meticulously did the dedicatory inscriptions on the temples remain anonymous.
C.     Egyptians started to build monuments entirely out of stone at the beginning of the Third Dynasty.
D.    Ancient Egyptian arts were influenced by the natural world as can be seen from the inscriptions on the tombs, monuments, and pyramids of ancient kings.
      X. The final chapter of the book is dedicated to those who had dealings with the Egyptians:
            The Hebrews, the Greeks, and the Romans.
A.    The greatest numbers of foreigners in ancient Egypt were represented by the Greeks who became more numerous during the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty.
B.     The best known pioneer to decipher the hieroglyphics was Kircher, a Jesuit, though Jean-Francois Champollion remains the greatest of all names associated with the study of Egypt.
C.     The First World War marked a new period in the history of Egyptology when Maspero, a French scientist was dispatched to Cairo by the French government to train Egyptologists and Arabic scholars after the death of Mariette who previously held the post of Service des Antiquetes.
D.    Having excelled in the art of pyramid construction and colossi or pectorals and pendants, Egyptians rival Greeks and outshine the other peoples of antiquity.

[1] P. Montet, La Geographie de l’Egypte ancienne, Paris, 1957-1961: I Tomehu, la Basse Egypte; II To-Chema, la Haute Egypte.
[2] Herodotus, II, 177. Diodorus, I, 31, and Theocritus, XVII, 82-4, give different figures.
[3] P. Montet, Les Scenes de la Vie privee dans les tombeaux de L’Ancien Empire, Paris 1925; Junker, Giza, 12 vols, and several articles by Keimer. P. Montet La vie quotidienne en Egypte au temps des Ramses, Paris, 1942; Posener, Sauneron, Yoyotte, Dictionnaire de la civilization égyptienne, Paris, 1959. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Upbringing and Surrounding Natural Habitat
Sultan Deghow was born around Wakaab Xaareey (Fecal Pond) in Garissa town that is currently nonexistent as the entire area has been transformed into a sprawling urban neighborhood. The result of human population explosion, town expansion, and drastic metropolitanization are some of the factors that brought about the unavoidable physical land feature transformations, ecological grafting or the unanticipated fissures visible to this day. At the time of his birth, the natural habitat was untouched having the semblance of an equatorial forest; it was purely an ecological environment free from deforestation or desertization­­­–unlike the current uncontrolled, human-enforced encroachment and fast-paced transhumance that has rendered the once natural picturesque denuded of the vital nutrients that could support the surrounding ecosystem.
The piece of land that he once called home during his childhood years is now a big farm producing mangos, bananas and other types of farm produce. The farm contains palatial houses owned by distant relatives while other portions have been turned into government offices. Gone are the varieties of tree species he would climb and play hide-and-seek with his age mates in the olden days. Tree species such as the Cordia sinensis that is known in Somali as Mareer and the shady Dobera glabra (Garas), the thorny Acacia Senegal (Cadaad), and the incredibly towering Hyphaene compressa (Baar), and Ziziphus mauritiana (Gob)—a tree with substantial horticultural importance, provided edible fruits and nuts while Acacia tortilis (Qurac)—also known as Gum Arabic—whose dark and reddish sap had been a remedy for eye diseases for centuries, grew in abundance where the Sultan-to-be resided from birth to adolescence. For a long time, pastoral Somalis harvested Gum Arabic, an acacia species whose ophthalmological benefits is mentioned in the famous book,  Ten Treatises on the Eye, by the celebrated Nestorian Christian and Arab physician Abu Zayd Hunayn ibn Ishaq al-Ibadi (809-877 A.D.).[i]
Commiphora myrrha or simply Myrrh—a tree native to the Horn of Africa and known to Somalis as Malmal or Dheddin, alleviated female Dysmenorrhea—a gynecological terminology pertaining to menstrual cramps or painful periods during menstruation.[ii] In Somali nomadic pharmacology, Myrrh has been used as an analgesic (pain killer) to treat abrasions, bruises, and to tranquilize toothaches, and contain sprains. To control or contain young bachelor males showing signs of Hyperspermia—an abnormally excessive sex drive or semen ejaculation[iii], conservative peripatetic parents consulted traditional herbalists to administer liquefied Myrrh to overcome the horrors of unanticipated rape and sexual molestation of innocent Somali girls and adult females.
Besides, Salvadora persica (Cadey), a natural toothbrush that has been in use since the time of the Babylonians as a preventive herbal medication against tooth decay and plaque—a species unique to the ecological environment of that time, has been replaced by the locally insignificant, little known Prosopis juliflora—an infuriating weed and a pernicious invader having dreadful economic and negative environmental influence in many parts of the world. Even to this present day where the majority of the urbanized global human population use toothbrushes that are made from nylon bristles and plastic and the varieties of irritating toothpastes that are readily available in every store, Sultan Deghow’s constant use of Salvadora persica before every salah (Islamic prayer) as admonished in the Hadith (Islamic tradition), has enabled him to keep sparkling white teeth and endearing, affectionate smile. Salvadora persica is a common toothbrush in regions where its use is widespread and customary. The historical significance of this natural toothbrush, has given it international recognition such that the World Health Organization has recommended its daily use for tooth cleaning.[iv]
Heavy livestock and wildlife concentration metamorphosed the once crystal clear manmade dam where young Deghow was born and raised by his loving parents in to a pulverulent, murky, and fecal-soiled water catchment devoid of human glance and praise. Thus, Somalis who are masters of nicknaming pejoratively gave it the peculiar, funny name that became a permanent, irreplaceable epithet or mark of distinction. In the olden days, Deghow’s birthplace teemed with friendly and ferocious wildlife and untouched natural botanical gardens that were a delight to the sightseer. Succulent roots and tubers that relieved the hunger pangs of the obstreperous kids on exploratory missions experimenting on the techniques of miniature wild game hunting, flourished in their natural habitat. Using bows and arrows crafted from wood, kids hunted the Dik-dik, Guinea fowl, and smaller antelopes. Beautiful sceneries and plenty of water and pasturage for the wild and domesticated animals created an environment akin to the equatorial African jungle.
The endangered, often mispronounced Hirola antelope or the Hunter’s Antelope whose scientific name is Beatragus hunter, burgeoned in their thousands around the Sultan’s neighborhood in his heydays. Carawle, as it should be rightly called in Somali, is now an endangered species secluded in a conservation resort far away from human encroachment.
Besides the Hirola Antelope, the white-stripped, irascible Somali skunk thrived along the Tana River which was a stone throw away from the young Sultan’s pastoral residence. Though primarily carnivorous, the Somali skunk—an animal that feeds on select fauna—has the tendency to supplement its diet with insects, birds’ chicks and even mice and cherries when beset by food scarcity. Polygamous in nature, the skunk, whose scientific name is Mephitis mephitis, is an animal despised by Somalis for its vociferous and ferocious attacks and braggadocious approaches when agitated. Somali myth has it that the Somali skunk applies explosively ballistic fart to blow up and fumigate the colonies of bees from their hives before embarking on the strenuous effort of sucking honey out of trees.
While the ecology of those days teemed with varying wildlife sharing identical or opposing phylogenic specifications, one exemplary animal that is worth mentioning for its gripping appearance and graceful look is the giraffe-necked Gerenuk or the Litocranius walleri. Undoubtedly, this animal is endemic to Somali inhabited regions and surprisingly, it is the intimate friend of the reticulated giraffe. Since the Gerenuk browses with the Somali Giraffa Camelopardalis reticulata and that its position to the giraffe makes an onlooker envision an act of feeding or suckling, the name Gerenuk should be replaced with Geri-Nuug—which simply means suckling a giraffe.
Less than a mile from the meandering Tana River that split the former NFD from the Tana River District, Deghow’s neighborhood teemed with mammals of varying colors, shapes, sizes and distinct taxonomies. The Tana River, Kenya’s largest and longest river that originates in the Aberdare Mountains, drains into the Indian Ocean near the town of Kipini. Somalis and the Orma or Oromo and other ethnic groups, call this river Webi Galana or Galana Maro. Overgrazing and deforestation were uncommon those days; domesticated and wild game, amphibians and reptiles and a plethora of bird species flourished in their thousands. The deadly spitting cobra and the venomous puff adder zigzagged through the forests and surrounding arid areas while the massive hippopotamus and the crocodile waded through the reddish waters of the nearby river.
The largest and the most beautiful flightless bird in the world—the Somali ostrich (Struthio molybdophanes)–a bird species phylogenetically portraying distinct heritable traits after mitochondrial DNA testing in 2014[v] separated it from other living and extinct species–danced in the wild while the gregarious Marabou Stork or Leptoptilos crumeniferus, either flew heavenwards or hideously perched on select acacia tree species to evade alien encounters. By hiding its eggs and newly-hatched chicks from human and animal infiltrations, the Marabou Stork has experienced exponential growth in numbers in recent years.  
Education and Mental Healing
As the Sultan reminisces, education in the former NFD collectively started in 1946 in all the six districts that included Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Moyale, Marsabit, and Isiolo. However, according to Turton, Wajir, which falls to the north of Garissa where the Sultan was born, had its first primary school in 1948. [vi] The year 1946 corresponds to an era when Somalis in Kenya were marginalized by the British colonial administration–a year after the end of the Second World War–a period of pan-Somali upheaval that was rejuvenated after the recommendations of the British Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, who proposed the creation of a ‘Greater Somalia’ state to seal undeterred Somali pastoralists’ movement across unguarded colonial borders.[vii]
Deghow recalls starting his formal education at an intermediate colonial government private school that same year. After eight years of hard work and dedication to his secular education, Deghow successfully completed his primary education. On the other hand, while pursuing his primary or intermediate education—a trend common among modern Somali school-goers, young Deghow attended an Islamic school that was run by his father who was a Maalim­–a term originating in Arabic that translates to a ‘teacher’. Besides specializing as a teacher, Deghow’s father was a man of scholarly repute and as well one who memorized the entire Qur’an at a tender age—a uniform tendency that was unique to Somalis practicing sedentarization—a term interchangeably used in this book to connote pastoralism, nomadism or mobility that is mainly practiced by people whose lives were dictated by changing weather patterns, rivalry, cattle rustling, territorial competition and transhumance.
Such living conditions consequently lead to the search for water and pasturage for the herds of livestock that sustained people falling under such social category. Even at this time and age, Deghow, who is a few years short of attaining the feeble octogenarian age, quotes specific Qur’anic verses when explaining major subjects under discussion—an indication he has a good grasp of Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic jurisprudence, empyreal or stratospheric knowledge and other divine thoughts and principles.
Life father like son, it is the ingrained spiritual limpidity inherited from his spiritual father that gave him unfathomable outspokenness and adeptness of vulnerary remediation between pastoral conflicting parties. His tenderness of heart and compassion for innocent humans besieged by the inflicting horrors of European colonialism gave him the human resolve to embark on a political path of self-determination through armed struggle that lasted almost half a century in later years.
Since the colonial administration practiced divide-and-rule tactics, majority of the teachers who taught in secular and religious schools in Garissa District were primarily Muslim teachers brought from as far as Zanzibar. Zanzibari pedagogues managed and operated the few Madrassas in the district using Arabic as the medium of instruction.
People of Bantu extraction—whether pedagogues or others espousing distinctive educational backgrounds—regardless of whether they were males or females, were not allowed in to the former NFD. On the other hand, Somalis and the Oromo were restricted from crossing the Tana River to other parts of Kenya for fear of exporting hostilities to peaceful southern regions that were haven for European settlers.
Ironically, rather than instituting novel administrative measures and injecting visionary leadership styles, the same stringent restrictive measures that were borrowed from the departing colonial master continued unabated even after Kenya’s attainment of independence in 1963 up to the Jomo Kenyatta and Arap Moi eras. Prior to taking office in the volatile, segregated NFD, British colonial administrative designates sent to the region to take over from their counterparts would exclusively be provided with Somali or Oromo cooks, drivers, and security guards, as the Sultan recalls.
Thus, the exclusive transfer of Zanzibari Muslim teachers to NFD was a way of enticing people belonging to the Hamito-Cushtic race to embrace British Colonial system of education while allowing Islamic education and Christian missionary activities to run side by side unrestrained.
While Christian education and missionary activities were inessential in areas heavily populated by people of Somali ethnic origin in the former NFD, traces of Christian evangelical activities remained visible among people practicing paganism and other African religious beliefs. The Somali disdain for other religious beliefs and their ardent desire to hold on to their Islamic beliefs, rendered Christian missionary proselytization efforts an impossible task.
After wrapping up his intermediate education, the youthful Deghow enrolled for secondary and university education through correspondence in Nairobi as it was the only way to enlighten his quest for higher education. While the Portuguese missionary activities were the first to inject formal schooling in Africa in the middle of the sixteenth century, the British and the French and later on the Americans laid down the foundations for some form of authoritative European system of education in the nineteenth century.[viii]
Adan Makina


[i] Nagamia, Husain F., and Nasir Puyan. "Abū Zayd Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq al-‘Ibādī: A Physician Translator Par Excellence." Journal of the Islamic Medical Association of North America 40.1 (2008).
[ii] Osayande, AS; Mehulic, S (1 March 2014). "Diagnosis and initial management of dysmenorrhea."  American family physician. 89 (5): 341–6. PMID 24695505.
[iii] Cooke, S., J. P. P. Tyler, and G. L. Driscoll. "Andrology: Hyperspermia: the forgotten condition?." Human Reproduction 10.2 (1995): 367-368.
[iv] Khatak, M. et al. “Salvadora Persica.” Pharmacognosy Reviews 4.8 (2010): 209–214. PMC. Web. 2 Oct. 2016.
[vi] Turton, Edmund Romilly. "The introduction and development of educational facilities for the Somali in Kenya." History of Education Quarterly 14.3 (1974): 347-365.
[vii] Whittaker, Hannah. "Pursuing pastoralists: The stigma of shifta during the 'shifta war ‘in Kenya, 1963-68." (2008).
[viii] White, Bob W. "Talk about School: education and the colonial project in French and British Africa (1860-1960)." Comparative Education 32.1 (1996): 9-26.