Africa is the world’s second-largest and second-most-populous continent. With 1.3 billion people as of 2018, it accounts for about sixteen percent of the world’s human population. Just as with its huge size, its history is also expansive.
Today, Africa consists of over fifty sovereign nations creating a rich history and culture that has greatly impacted world history as well as the functioning of the world we live in today. In this article, we take a look at why we should all study Africa.
African history entails the study of the economic, political, cultural, and social activities of the people who live or once lived in Africa. To study the people of the past is to learn of the rich diversity of our human experience. A proper examination of the past can tell us a great deal about who we are and how we came to be.
As a historian, it is essential to acquire insights into the ideas and realities that shaped the past lives of men and women of earlier societies. To truly understand the current standing of Africa, its people, cultures, and their impact on world history, one must study the history of the continent.
In this article, we discuss:
- The Importance of African Knowledge
- The Diversity of Human Experience
- Oral Tradition
- Personal Development
- Professional Development
The continent of Africa is rich with the history of mankind. Some of the earliest archeological discoveries of human development have been found in Africa including ancient cave paintings many thousands of years old. One of the oldest and longest-lasting civilizations was Ancient Egypt which is still famous today for its pyramids and pharaohs. However, the Egyptians weren’t the only civilization to develop in ancient Africa. Important civilizations developed throughout the continent such as Carthage, the Mali Empire, and she Kingdom of Ghana.
Related Lecture: The Making of Asante Kings
According to researchers, such as Dr. Louis Leakey, Africa has been proven to be the original home of man (homo sapiens). Africa and its history are woven into the history of almost every single society and region on the earth. This is in no small part because of the role the African continent and its people have been made to play in the building of these countries and societies. For historians and all individuals interested in world history, studying Africa should thus be the first step to learning about any other history. African history details the very genesis of man and what better way to understand how the world we live in today came to be than by starting with Africa.
The geography of Africa helped to shape the history and development of the cultures and civilizations of the continent. The geography impacted where people could live, the production of goods such as gold and salt, and trade routes that helped different civilizations to interact and develop, culminating into a certain uniqueness to each African society. The culture of ancient Africa was as diverse as the geography of the continent. Thsu, though connected, each African nation is unique.
African history enables the student to develop a critical mind and appreciate the variety of human behavior and motives. In this respect, studying history can increase human tolerance and respect for differences in opinion. Gaining knowledge of other cultures through the appreciation of history encourages students of history to engage in critical analysis of their own culture and society and to understand and criticize their assumptions. By studying Africa, you begin to understand the reasons behind these customs and beliefs; you come to understand the uniqueness of the African experience.
Study with us: Foundation Certificate in African History
Someone who studies African history is able to appreciate the use of different types of sources in the writing and reconstruction of African history apart from written sources. Much of what we know about ancient Africa has been passed down orally over the years. One can gain an understanding of the intricacies of African traditions and beliefs through a study of oral histories and in this way come to understand current societies better.
The study of African history gives the individual the opportunity to better relate their past with the present. Thus, the various stages of society’s development have to be evaluated to understand the present situation. One will better understand the social, economic, and political state of affairs of society if they know how things were done in the past. This gives them the key to finding solutions to today’s problems.
Students of African history can engage in learning experiences that bolster their preparation for undergraduate and graduate programs, deepen their understanding of social problems, and practice skills that will make them more marketable in the professional world. A professional qualification in African history and political thought can enhance job prospects of journalists, educators and policymakers. This is why in addition to our Public Lectures, the African History Project has launched Foundation Certificate to allow students to engage with African political and intellectual narratives more profoundly.