'They Came before Columbus'. (Cover Story/Africans in the Americas)

By Khpera, Saafu | New African, January 2001 | Go to article overview

'They Came before Columbus'. (Cover Story/Africans in the Americas)


Khpera, Saafu, New African


According to conventional history, Christopher Columbus "discovered" America. The natives who had lived there for centuries did not matter. Even then, centuries before Columbus ever stepped in any ship, Africans had been to the Americas on expeditions, had lived among and traded with the natives, and had in fact influenced the native American civilisations in a big way. This is another history lesson to make you want to sit down and read this slowly.

The presence of Africans in North and South America (the so-called New World) has until recently been ignored, if not kept secret, by historians as part of the larger concealment of African history. The significant difference, unlike Kemet (Ancient Egypt), is that the African presence in America presents a rather more difficult challenge in as far as modern history claims that a certain Christopher Columbus "discovered" America.

This would be right if "discovered" means "arriving centuries after others had already been there". First, the land now called the Americas was not an uninhabited place. It had always been full of people, so Columbus could not have "discovered" it.

Even then, Africans had travelled there for centuries before Columbus ever set foot in any ship. When the Africans arrived, they infused their culture into the existing cultural terrain of the native people and also embraced their gods, a concept well established in Africa for thousands of years. By so doing the Nubian-Kemets recognised the Amerindian gods, which in effect acknowledges the Ameri-Indians as custodians and spiritual title-holders to the land; the Africans did not discover America. The land and its people were already there.

The African presence there dates as far back as pre-historic America [40,000 BC-6,000BC]. The Nubian-Kemmiu [Egyptian] arrived in the Americas around 1200 BC, while the Mandinga from West Africa arrived about 1307 AD. The Christopher Columbus era was nowhere on the horizon at this time.

Studies by African-American scholars, such as Dr Ivan van Sertima (whose book, They Came Before Columbus, was published to wide acclaim in 1977), has unearthed startling evidence that point definitively to pre-Columbian African presence in the Americas.

For Euro-American historians, the fact that Africans had been in the Americas in ancient times, not as labourers but as a major influencing group, occupying elite positions in society, and providing civilising elements carried over from Africa, long before the 13th century (when the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade began), is difficult to accept. Because it punches holes into the widely accepted notion of "Negro inferiority" which was used to justify the slavery of Africans from the 13th century onwards.

The Africa-Caribbean writer, Richard B. Moore, rightly points our in his book, The Significance of African History, that: "The significance of African history is shown...in the very effort to deny anything of the name of history to Africa and the African peoples. For it is logical and apparent that no such undertaking [falsifying African history] would ever have been carried on, and at such length, in order to obscure and bury what is actually of little or no significance."

The Mandiga Voyage, 1300 AD

Available archaeological evidence and definitive historical accounts point to pre-Columbian West African expeditions across the Atlantic between 1307-1312 AD. The work of Al-Umars, a 14th century Islamic historian, who recorded the visit of Mansa Kankan Musa I, one of the most remarkable Mandinga emperors in Mali, when he stopped over in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, enroute to Mecca in 1324 AD, testify to the Mandinga expeditions across the Atlantic.

Umars' account quotes Mansa Musa as saying that his predecessor had launched two expeditions from West Africa to discover the limits of the Atlantic Ocean.

Umari, writing a few decades after Mansa Musa's visit to Mecca, states: "I asked the Sultan Musa how it was that power came into his hands. …

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