Wednesday, December 28, 2016

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


International Organizations
Globalization: Effects, Backlash, and Challenges
Globalization and Information Technology
Globalization and Income Inequalities
Cultural Dimensions of Globalization
Consequences of Globalization
Since the end of the devastating World War II, the political, social, and economic management of the world we live in has been tremendously altered with marvelous global cooperation getting off the ground followed by scrupulous regional transformations sprouting almost in every continent regardless of whether it is in Asia, Africa, Europe, North and South America, and Australia. International nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) include organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross} (ICRC) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) also known as Doctors Without Borders. On the other hand, intergovernmental organizations also known as international governmental organizations (IGOs) include the United Nations (UN), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Council of Europe (CoE), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the European Union (EU). Intergovernmental military alliances like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Collective Security Treaty Organization, and the European Security and Defense Policy are exclusively for defense purposes and often involve risky commitments. The Warsaw Treaty (1955-91) was a treaty of mutual defense or in other words a treaty of friendship, cooperation, and mutual assistance between the former member-states the Soviet Union, Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Albania. International corporations such as Coca Cola and Toyota are referred to as multinational corporations (MNCs). [[i]

The first documented multinational corporation in modern history was the Dutch East India Company that was established in 1602 to carry out 21-year colonial activities in Asia. Also known as Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or VOC in Dutch, it was arguably the world’s first mega-corporation and was reputed to have transported approximately a million Europeans to Asia ultimately leading to the establishment of permanent settlements with Java in Indonesia becoming the first station in 1603. Statistically, DOV is presumed to have utilized 4,785 ships for its seafaring missions and reportedly accumulated a net income of 2.5 million tons of commercial Asian goods that were in the end traded in European markets for significant profit.  To deter Dutch monopoly of trade in Asia, the English (later British) followed suit by instituting a formidable ocean trade constituting 2,690 ships formed exclusively to perform trade with the East Indies though it eventually became one restricted to trading with the Indian subcontinent and China.

The need for formidable and invincible alliances and alleviation of nuclear deterrence were the major factors behind the proliferation of regional and international organizations while the formation of multinational corporations evolved as a result of the profusion of capitalism in the western hemisphere and leanings toward democratic governance which hitherto predisposed humans to search for the virtues of liberty and justice. “The global political system has been undergoing both integrative trends, brought about by increases in communication and trade, and disintegrative trends, such as weapons proliferation, global environmental deterioration, and ethnic conflict.” [[ii]]  Major wars, such as World War I, World War II, and the Cold War brought about noteworthy changes in hypothetical explanations of world political affairs with the emergence of realism, liberalism, and constructivism followed by novel critiques of radicalism and feminism culminating in relative theatrical gains in thoughts and actions among hegemons, emerging powers, and nation-states.

International Organizations (IOs)
The hard work and dedication of responsible IOs operating in many parts of the world may not be denied as select numbers have been in the forefront of alleviating disease, hunger, and other forms of social sufferings found in the most deprived parts of the world. A good example is the internationally renowned organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) that was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1999 in recognition of its members' continuous effort to provide medical care in acute crises, as well as raising international awareness of potential humanitarian disasters. [[iii]] There have been several documented cases of environmental degradation by MNCs as happened in Liberia a few years ago where Firestone was found to have created extensive environmental degradation and to have allowed its local employees live in squalid conditions. Seldom, MNCs have been accused of practicing multifarious forms of exploitation, manipulate child labor, and cause environmental degradation in regions governed by corrupt regimes where laws are lax and ineffective. [[iv]] As long as MNCs abide by the internationally recognized environmental standards management set forth by ISO 14000, there shouldn’t be any problem for MNCs operating from far a field in developing countries. Another negative argument by some writers or scholars is that MNCs drastically changes the infrastructure of host countries and at the same time alter the culture and tradition of the locals they encounter. Besides the cultural and environmental erosion created by these foreign-based international institutions, a global effort can be effected to put a cap on further degradation of cultures, traditions, and the environment not only for the present but for posterity.

“The IMF, World Bank and the other international development banks have one thing in common; they are public sector institutions, with no requirement to turn a profit.” [[v]]

Globalization: Effects, Backlash, and Challenges
Globalization is the collective integration of political, economical, and cultural efforts across the globe. It emphasizes and incorporates trade, technology, health, Culture, environment, migration, investment, banking, and money issues, development, women and globalization, international law and organizations, energy, human rights, global education, and global media. While globalization has been applauded in different regions as a strong allocator of resources, distrust and indecision to grasp its benefits has left many lagging behind in the field of economic globalization. The consequences of off-shoring and outsourcing has had detrimental effects on the dwindling North American job market. The net loss of U.S. exports means the net loss of U.S. jobs. NAFTA and economic globalization have compromised long-term growth both in Mexico and in the United States. [[vi]]

In many regions of the world especially in North America, there is cause for small-businesses to celebrate because of the added advantages of globalization. Increased production, enhanced communication, quicker movement of goods, and services as a result of better transportation and the internet commerce have resulted in unparalleled opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses. "Globalization and the Internet have created unprecedented opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses in Canada" [[vii]]

Globalization and Information Technology
A clear picture of how globalization and information technology seem to transform the world has best been noted by Thomas L. Friedman, author of The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century, where in his discussion with Jaithirth “Jerry” Rao, owner of the Indian accounting firm MphasiS, at the Leela Palace Hotel, the respected author states “…anything that can be digitized can be outsourced to either the smartest or the cheapest producer, or both.” [[viii]] Today’s globalization is not yesterday’s globalization. The current trend in globalization and information technology is one of leaps and bounds-a phenomenon noted since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

Globalization and Income Inequalities
Attributing globalization to the downfall of the poor is outrageously a misguided notion. With the exception of a few global leaders with inadequate, unconvincing, ineffective, and unsatisfactory beliefs toward globalization, the rest of the world remains convinced that globalization does more good than harm to the poor. Those leaders opposed to globalization have the tendency to suppress the four components that are harbinger for growth and development: economic integration, technology, political engagement, and personal contacts. Trade, direct foreign investments, capital inflows and outflows, and net factor income are determining factors in economic integration. Table 1 shows the globalization index for 2005. International phone traffic, international travel and tourism, and cross border capital transfers, such as bank loans, securities or aid, and remittances, which are defined as transfers of money by workers to their home countries, are defined as personal contacts. [[ix]] The use of the internet, the number of available hosts, and secure internet servers define technology. Both technology transfers and personal contacts drastically reduce income inequalities within nations. Political engagement refers to membership in international organizations, the number of diplomatic missions a nation may have, and the number of diplomatic responsibilities or engagements for any given nation within the broader U.N. Security Council.  As shown in Table 2, the Heshmati index places greater weight on technology than Kearny. The larger PC1 figures represent aggressive globalization and also represent the first three components of globalization: economic integration, personal contacts, and integration.

Cultural Dimensions of Globalization
Despite globalization integrating capital, technology, and information across national borders, tension exists between the globalization system and ancient forces of culture, geography, tradition, and community. [[x]] Despite the surfacing of threats from the combined forces of resistance, undoubtedly globalization will go beyond the current novel innovations of world wide web, internet, e-commerce, PayPal, microchips, and fiber optic cable because the propensity of forces that are for globalization outnumber those that are against its propagation.

Consequences of Globalization
A stunning 1.1 billion of the world’s population live below the poverty line, which is equivalent to US$1. Table 3 defines data on poverty by region with Sub-Saharan Africa taking the lead while countries in the western hemisphere remain excluded due to their realization of considerable wealth and consumerism. 


Table 1
Source: Kearny (2005), from “Measuring Globalization,” Page 55

Table 2
Table 3
                                                            2001 Poverty Statistics, using poverty line of $1 (1993)
                                                            Total               HCI Poverty   Headcount                
                                                            Number          Number          Index (HCI)     Poverty          
                                                            (millions)        (millions)        (percent)        gap*   
Sub-Saharan Africa                          524                  241                  46                    20
East Asia and the Pacific                 1747                245                  14                    3
South Asia                                         1351                432                  32                    7
Eastern Europe                                461                  14                    3                      0.8
Middle East and North Africa          222                  4                      2                      0.5
Latin America and the Caribbean   499                  50                    10                    3
*Poverty gap gives the aggregate income shortfall as a percentage of aggregate consumption.
 Source:  World Bank (2006)

Table 4
Source: Dagdeviren et al. (2001)

[[ii]] Charles W. Kegley, Jr. and Shannon B. Blanton, World Politics: Trend and Transformation. Wadsworth 20 Channel Center Street, Boston, MA 02210
[[vi]] Kelly-Kate S. Pease, International Organizations: Perspectives on Governance in the Twenty-First Century, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458.
[[vii]] The title of a story by Lopez-Pacheco appearing on the National Post in Sept 2002.
[[viii]] Thomas L. Friedman, The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century, Picador, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.
[[x]] Thomas L. Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 19 Union Square West, New York 10003


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)