chapter  15
47 Pages

Doing Business with Africans: (North Africa, East Africa, West Central Africa, Southern Africa)

Two hundred million years ago, this landmass split off from the ancient supercontinent of Pangea. Africa has largely remained a mystery to the outside world, marked perhaps more by its isolation than by any other feature. This stubborn reality can be traced to the earliest times and is reflected in the hopelessly misrepresented images of ancient cartographers, whose graphic distortions were as errant as the half myths and false science that passed for knowledge about the continent. Ancient civilizations flourished in Africa from Carthage in the north to “empires” in the south.1 Among these indigenous kingdoms was Great Zimbabwe, which flourished in the 11th to 15th centuries; and in the Niger area, the grand states of Yoruba, Ashanti, Hausa once flourished, but only Benin survived the longest from the 13th to 19th centuries. From a.d. 900 onward, the coastal plains contained the Swahili culture and language that dominated from Somalia to Zanzibar, including a mix of local peoples, Arabs, and immigrants. From the 16th to 19th centuries, the search for riches and a route to India brought European explorers and occupiers, beginning with the

Germans. Unfortunately, few Europeans appreciated the civilizations and cultures already functioning there, imposing their own ways on the indigenous inhabitants. Although Africans dispersed by natural migration, they were forcefully introduced into the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East as a result of the inhumane slave trade.