Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Review of H.L. Gates, Africa's Great Civilizations

H.L. Gates, Africa's Great Civilizations presented on PBS during Black History Month, is just another Eurocentric view of ancient African history. the series is interesting but it only reflects the European view that African history is the result of outside influences.

In the series he shows images of the Egyptians as Blacks, but by saying that after the 25th Dynasty took Egypt they became the "Black Rulers" of Egypt, Gates implies that the ancient Egyptians were non-Blacks.


Then he discusses the Berbers of Africa and implies that the Berbers who took over Spain were white Berbers instead of Black Berbers. For example, the Sanhaja Berbers were described as Blacks, but Gates shows white Berbers. We know from the pictures of the North African Moors that they were Black, not Berbers who are descendants of the Vandal.


In addition, he failed to discuss the fact that Ibn Yahsin, was mainly established in Senegal before his followers spread across North Africa and took Spain, or that the Moors of Spain were predominately Black. The white Arabs of Spain were the Saracens. The Moors ruled Spain from 711-1492.


Gates did not present anything new about ancient African civilization that is not already "accepted" by the Eurocentric Academe, except the fact that writing began in Egypt before Sumer.


The Africa's Great Civilization series presents none of the research relating to African civilizations that differ from Eurocentric view of ancient history that has been recorded since DuBois and Diop.

Sadly, Gates has not really presented a true history of ancient Africa.

1 comment:

spoonman said...

I was disappointed that Gates skimmed over African civilization inventions and institutions such as slavery, warfare and colonization. They even get a questionable quote from someone minimizing the impact of slavery in building the pyramids by dismissing that Hebrew slaves were instrumental in their construction.

At the same time that Gates ignores slavery as an African institution and part of some civilizations, he also ignores the warfare undertaken by Civilizations against one another and the resulting colonization that occured (the Egyptians imposed their religion and civilization on their conquered peoples).

Gates not only dismisses these products, but actually gives some praise for the rulers who went to war as complimenting their acts as extending their civilizations reach and influence. A shameful modern commentary on warfare.

While otherwise insightful, these oversights allow modern viewers to ignore the impact of ancient slavery and colonization of African Civilizations and allow them to carry on with the incorrect assumption that these were European instruments and creations that only impacted Africa during the Enlightenment.

This series could have been so much more.