Monday, January 12, 2004

Met: Ife (from ca. 350 B.C.)

A small but illuminating piece about the history of Ife, the city regarded by the Yoruba with the same special fondness that Jews do Jerusalem, along with some images of traditional Yoruba art, can be found on the Met Museum page linked to above.

Ife Shrine Head

As you can see from reading both the page above and this one, Ife's history dates back a considerable while, predating the origin of "Heian-kyo" (Kyoto) by about a thousand years. People who say things like "Africa has no indegenous civilizations" are simply spouting rubbish.

Tada Seated Figure: 13-14th century

Does the above work of art look like the fruit of an "uncivilized" people, or one with an "average IQ" of 67 (as one so-called "researcher" claims for Nigeria) to you? Nor were the Yoruba alone in displaying such creativity: the bronze Igbo-Ukwu bowl pictured below has been dated to the 9th-10th century period,

Bowl on a Stand: 9th-10th century

as has the following roped pot, also of Igbo-Ukwu origin.

Roped Pot on a Stand: 9th-10th century

Lest it be assumed that sophisticated art only began to be created in sub-Saharan Africa in the Igbo-Ukwu era, I present the following Nok terracotta, dated to c. 250BC - making it contemporaneous with the far-better known "terracotta army" of Chinese Emperor Chin Shin Huang Ti.

Now, when one is talking about peoples who have founded cities dating back more than 2,000 years, who were already using pottery-shard pavement in said cities 1,000 years ago, who were producing sophisticated works of art in bronze and copper from just as far back, and masterful terracottas from well before the birth of the Roman Empire, who, as with the Yoruba state of Oyo, had (in the Oyo Mesi) constitutional checks on monarchical power long predating their first substantial contacts with Europeans - when one considers all the preceding, what is it other than a manifestation of prejudice or woeful ignorance to label such peoples "uncivilized", to refer to them as "tribes", or to breezily attribute to them average levels of intelligence below that considered indicative of mental retardation in Western countries?

Ignorance of African culture and history amongst Westerners is to some extent understandable, but it is difficult to interpret a willingness to make grand claims about the "innate" capacities of Africans coupled with a refusal to correct the deficiencies in one's knowledge as anything other than malicious in nature. It isn't as if there is any shortage of decent books on African history, after all. Such obstinacy from the usual sorts of kooks and nutcases who hang around places like "Stormfront" I can understand - some souls are so far gone that one might as well write them off - but for anyone with claims to "scientist" status to do so ...

NB - For this post, I have entirely disregarded the ancient states of the Horn of Africa region i.e, Kush, Meroe, Aksum and so forth, not because they weren't "real" African states, but for two reasons, the first being that the states of West Africa are the ones I know best, and the second being the annoying tendency of Africa-bashers to capriciously exclude such states from the "black African" counter whenever it suits them (even though the very same crowd will happily lump Ethiopians along with the Ijaw whenever they can make Africa look worse by so doing - the Ethiopians, descendants of the inhabitants of the state of Aksum, are accorded a jaw-dropping "average IQ" of 63 by the eminent "researcher" named Richard Lynn). I have also avoided talking about the states of Ghana, Mali and Songhai for similar reasons - their achievements are all too easily "explained" away as owing entirely to Arabs.