Oct 27

History of West Africa Project


As FromNothing alluded to, I am indeed working on a Western Africa project. While I'm not recruiting anyone or anything, I will try to post updates here. I've only gotten done 1900 - 2019 done so far and with school I'm probably not going to finish the project anytime soon. However any detailed historical maps of the place are always appreciated!

New Posts
  • Hi guys, one question that has always bugged me is when did humans first populate the West Africa region & who were the first civilisations in West Africa?
  • In my opinion Thomas Sankara is Africa's greatest President. When people usually talk about Africa's great leaders Nelson Mandela usually comes to most people mind, But I think he is a bit overrated and I know a lot of people are gonna get mad but that's just my opinion. I am not saying he didn't do great things for South Africa he did obviously. So who was Thomas Sankara? Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara (21 December 1949 – 15 October 1987) was a Burkinabé military captain, Marxist revolutionary, pan-Africanist theorist, and President of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987. Viewed by supporters as a charismatic and iconic figure of revolution, he is commonly referred to as “Africa’s Che Guevara” He wanted the resources of Burkina Faso to benefit majority of his fellow countrymen and women. After his assassination, Burkina Faso has never been the same. A captain in the Upper Volta Air Force, he was trained as a pilot. He was a very popular figure in the capital of Ouagadougou. The fact that was he was a decent guitarist and liked motorbikes may have contributed to his charisma. Sankara was appointed Secretary of State for Information in 1981 and became Prime minister in 1983. He was jailed the same year after a visit by Jean-Christophe Mitterrand ; this caused a popular uprising. A coup d'Etat organized by Blaise Compaore made Sankara President on August 4, 1983, at the age of 33. The coup d'Etat was supported by Libya which was, at the time, on the verge of war with France in Chad . Sankara saw himself as a revolutionary and was inspired by Cuba and Ghana's military leader, Flight Lt. Jerry Rawlings. As president, he promoted the "Democratic and Popular Revolution". As a President he achieved the following: 1. He renamed his country which was formally named as ''upper volta'' by France into "Burkina Faso" which means "Land of the upright people" in More' and Djula, the two major languages of the country. 2. He vaccinated 2.5 million children against meningitis, yellow fever and measles in a matter of less than 2 weeks. 3. He planted over 10 million trees to prevent desertification 4. He built roads and a railway to tie the nation together, without foreign aid 5. Uncommon at the time he lived, Sankara stressed women empowerment and campaigned for the dignity of women in a traditional patriarchal society. He employed women in several government positions and declared a day of solidarity with housewives by mandating their husbands to take on their roles for 24 hours. 6. He sold off the government fleet of Mercedes cars and made the Renault 5 (the cheapest car sold in Burkina Faso at that time) the official service car of the ministers. 7. He reduced the salaries of all public servants, including his own, and forbade the use of government chauffeurs and 1st class airline tickets. 8. He redistributed land from the feudal landlords and gave it directly to the peasants. Wheat production rose in three years from 1700 kg per hectare to 3800 kg per hectare, making Burkina Faso which was at that time one of the poorest countries in the world food self-sufficient. 9. He opposed foreign aid, saying that “he who feeds you, controls you.” 10. An accomplished guitarist, he wrote the new national anthem himself 11. Sankara preached self reliance, he banned the importation of several items into Burkina Faso, and encouraged the growth of the local industry. 12. In Ouagadougou, Sankara converted the army’s provisioning store into a state-owned supermarket open to everyone (the first supermarket in the country). 13. He increased Burkina Faso's literacy rate from 13% in 1983 to 73% in 1987. Here are some of his quotes 1. “While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas”. 2. “I want people to remember me as someone whose life has been helpful to humanity”. 3. “Our country produces enough to feed us all. Alas, for lack of organization, we are forced to beg for food aid. It’s this aid that instills in our spirits the attitude of beggars”. 4. “We are not against progress, but we do not want progress that is anarchic and criminally neglects the rights of others”. 5. " We have to work at decolonizing our mentality and achieving happiness within the limits of sacrifice we should be willing to make. We have to recondition our people to accept themselves as they are, to not be ashamed of their real situation, to be satisfied with it, to glory in it, even " 6. "The enemies of a people are those who keep them ignorance" 7. " When the people stand up, imperialism trembles " On 15 October 1987, Sankara was killed by an armed group with twelve other officials in a coup d'état organised by his former colleague Blaise Compaoré(Some people belive he was assisted by France) . When asked Compaoré stated that Sankara jeopardised foreign relations with former colonial power France. Compaoré immediately became president and removed policies made by sankara. He also rejoined the IMF and World Bank and ruled burkina faso for 27 years until he was removed in 2014 by the military and charged with the assassination of Thomas sankara.
  • Ghana originally consisted of many different tribes and ethnic groups. Their traditional architecture was influenced by factors as available materials and technological limitations, economic, social relationship within the community and religious beliefs That makes all the tribes different in many ways, above all in architectural style. One of the most important Ghanaian ethnic groups in the central and south of Ghana is the Akan people who live in the Ashanti area. As their territory extended to cover a greater part of today’s Ghana, their design became an example on what we can define as a traditional Ghanaian architecture. The traditional Asante buildings are listed as World Heritage property by UNESCO, and are described as impressing in terms of construction, design, cleanliness and comfort. The architecture of the Asante people is characterized by the courtyard house, a building type that became a base for all the different types of buildings. The construction of the courtyard house was of timber framework covered in mud and a steeply pitched thatch roof. They painted the upper part of the building white, and the lower part red. The ground floor was raised, sometime up to two meters. An example of the typical traditional courtyard house is the “shrine” house, which consists of four buildings enclosing a central courtyard. The courtyard is a place for music, cooking and religion. The courtyard houses were well adapted to the climatic conditions in the area with ventilated ornamented screen walls, and partially roofed outdoor space as shelter for sun and rain. The Asante Kingdom had its golden age in the 18th century, fell during the British occupation of the area from 1806 to 1901, and most Asante buildings of the period were destroyed during the area. Among other buildings, the royal mausoleum was destroyed by Baden-Powell in 1895. The houses are constructed of timber, bamboo and mud plaster and thatched roofs. The unique decorative bas-reliefs that adorn the walls are bold and depict a wide variety of motifs. Common forms include spiral and arabesque details with representations of animals, birds and plants, linked to traditional “Adinkra” symbols. As with other traditional art forms of the Ashanti, these designs are not merely ornamental, they also have symbolic meanings, associated with the ideas and beliefs of the Ashanti people, and have been handed down from generation to generation. The buildings, their rich colour, and the skill and diversity of their decorations are the last surviving examples of a significant traditional style of architecture that epitomized the influential, powerful and wealthy Ashanti Kingdom of the late 18th to late 19th centuries. Ashanti Traditional Buildings reflect and reinforce a complex and intricate technical, religious and spiritual heritage. Below are some images of surviving buildings built during the time of the ashanti kingdom Their design and construction, consisting of a timber framework filled up with clay and thatched with sheaves of leaves, is rare nowadays. All designated sites are shrines, but there have been many other buildings in the past in the same architectural style. They have been best preserved in the villages, away from modern construction and warfare. The WHS consists of a number of buildings (10, 12 or 13?) around Kumasi in central Ghana. Kumasi was once the capital of the great Ashanti Empire. The buildings consist of four rooms around a quadrangular courtyard. Three of the rooms (those for drumming, singing and cooking) are open, while the fourth (the actual shrine) is closed to all but the priest and his assistants. The inner courtyards are usually littered with fetishes. The buildings traditionally have steep thatched roofs. Their lower walls are painted orange/red, and the upper walls are whitewashed. The walls hold symbolic murals, like those on the adinkra cloth.