Africa prides itself of many titles and among the many, is the title ‘cradle of human kind’. This claim has been substantiated by the fact that the earliest remains of human life were found in the continent.
It is believed that the word was derived from the word ‘Afira’ meaning dusty in Arabic. African history and origin believe are an intricate and a quite extensive subject. It entails things like the discovery of the continent by the Caucasians, wars and conquests, colonization and civilization.
Origin of man
Africa is one of the oldest landmasses in the entire universe. It has been in existence for the past 300 million years. It has witnessed all creatures even those that we only hear of such as dinosaurs, all landforms and all strange occurrences that are believed to have ever happened on the continent.
According to the African origin beliefs, the human family or rather hominids, and the apes had a common ancestor. But at some point, the hominids and the apes split and began developing distinctly from each other.
African History and Origin Beliefs
- Homo habilis
- Homo erectus
- Homo sapiens
The Australopithecus was the earliest ancestor of humankind. They had a very striking resemblance with the apes. The oldest remains of the ape man were found in a lime stone cave in the year 1925 in South Africa. These creatures were quite miniature, with long arms, a small brain capacity, a prominent skull and wide and very strong jaws and teeth. Their bodies were adapted to swinging on trees.
The ape man, later on, evolved to Homo habilis. He is recognized as a tool maker. He had a larger brain size which enabled him to be more rationalizing than his earlier predecessor. And as a result of this, he was able to manufacture simple stone tools such as sharpened pebbles. His remains were found in Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania.
At around 1.5 million years ago, another ancestor of man evolved. The Homo erectus. He was more robust in stature and taller than the Homo habilis. His brain capacity was bigger, this meant more developments. As result of this, he made better and more improvised tools as well as inventing fire to cook. The Homo erectus is said to have spread out to other continents as well due to their adventurous nature.
After the Homo erectus, then came the most advanced species of the human race, the Homo sapiens. He is viewed as the modern man. He had the most developed brain, walked on an upright posture, cooked and lived in social groupings or families.
Popular beliefs of African origin dictate that the Homo sapiens was not only found in Africa but also in other parts of the world. It is believed that their predecessor, the Homo erectus left Africa 1.5 million years ago due to population density in the continent, which had led to inadequate resources such as food and mates. This meant that whatever they, later on, evolved to (Homo sapiens) was what was now spread out in other parts of the world.
Two theories were developed in respect of this averment;
Out of Africa theory
This theory brings about the notion that the Homo sapiens species at the first instance, developed in Africa. They later dispersed to the other parts of the world say like around 125,000 years ago. The only intention of bringing up this averment is to support that Africa remains to be the cradle of human kind and that modern man is of African descent.
Proponents of this theory are of the opinion that, the Homo sapiens species simultaneously went through the evolution from their previous Homo erectus form at diverse places in the world. And not necessarily in the African continent.
However, it is needless to say that the ‘out of Africa’ theory, carries the day as it is easier to support with available evidence such as fossil remains. It is fair to say that members of the human race share a common origin.
After the emergence of the modern man, the best belief of African history enumerate that Africa went through a rough patch called, the scramble and partition of Africa. Europeans, Arabs, Portuguese came into the continent under the pretext of spreading their religion, that is Christianity and Islam.
After they arrived, they deviated from their course after seeing how much-untapped potential the African continent had. There was plenty of minerals, available work force, lots of vast lands and plenty of raw materials that could be used in their industries.
In the mid-7th century, Arabs started salve trade. They would capture Africans and transport them across the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea where they would be sold as slave laborers who were to work in their plantations and industries. The Europeans, not ones to be left behind, joined the lucrative trade in the 15th century. They would transport African slaves through the Atlantic Ocean to the various destinations where they would serve as slaves in the farms, mines, and industries.
The end of the 19th and the early 20th century saw the scramble and partition of Africa come into play. Many western countries wanted a piece of the African cake. They did this by conquering many African countries which later became their colonies. The more colonies a western country conquered the more successful it appeared to its counterparts.
African origin beliefs dictate that the scramble was aimed at conquering more African countries so as to be able to have easy access to minerals and raw materials for their industries, to obtain cheap labor to work in their mines and plantations and to obtain more land for themselves so as to be able to bring in more settlers in the continent. This move was to enable them to subdue the Africans easily since their weaponry was no match compared to that of the colonial masters. They had no option but to throw in the trowel.
In the midst of all these struggles, the Africans were getting more exposed and accustomed to the ways of their colonial masters. They became wiser and bolder. This saw the struggle for independence in the African continent begin. Africans wanted to be allowed to rule and run their lives by themselves. They were tired of being oppressed, of being mistreated and being alienated from their land, yet they were still living in their mother land.
The struggle for independence in various parts of the continent bore fruit around the year 1960 after the Second World War weakened the countries that were taking part in the war such as Europe, Germany, and France. This marked the onset of self -governance in the African continent.
The 21st century saw an improved African economy, better educated Africans, increased social facilities such as schools, hospitals, and churches. Last but not least, governments of the day were established.
It goes without saying that Africans made a significant contribution to the development of the present day modern man. The African history and origin believe a fore mentioned clearly stipulate that as the first inhabitants, they were the first ones to use their brains and physical abilities to develop some form of technology such as stone tools. It is from these humble beginnings that we got the modern and sophisticated technology that we have today.