Lost kingdoms of Africa: Zimbabwe

Later kingdoms existed after the fall of this one, Barbosa wrote in the 16th that the king of Benametapa was a “lord of an exceeding great country”. If we are to consider this an exaggeration then we should see it as simply a great country as opposed to an “exceeding great country”. (The concept of Africans being intellectually inferior would have seemed like a strange belief at that time)

European intervention helped lead to the decline of African kingdoms before destruction by colonialism, if they didn’t have the military might to take over through out right force they were strong enough with their gun powder to meddle in politics and trade routes. Livingstone said in 1856 “the only evidence of greatness possessed by his successor is having about a hundred wives, when he dies, a disputed succession and much fighting are expected.”

“Cloaked in darkness since medieval times, the spectacular ruins of the once dazzling, southern African kingdom of Great Zimbabwe posed a thorny dilemma for white settlers who claimed to have ‘discovered’ the region a mere hundred years before. Refusing to believe the massive, finely hewn walls could be the product of native culture, white “experts” eager to claim the land for Europeans credited the ancient city to everyone from wandering Phoenicians to the biblical Queen of Sheba. In so doing, they began a long insidious European tradition of willful misinterpretation of Africa’s past, until, in the ultimate irony, the place where human history began would become a place with no history of its own.

Now, trek inland to the remote site of Great Zimbabwe, a fabulous “lost city,” which reached its glory in the 14th century. Then, sift the sands of time to uncover the equally splendid culture of Africa’s Swahili Coast. The fabulously wealthy center of the thriving gold and ivory trades until the 16th century, its cities now lie all but forgotten, buried under centuries of indifference. Reclaiming their past from a long tradition of racial prejudice and neglect, the descendants of these lost cultures are only now discovering the extraordinary achievements of Africa’s indigenous civilizations.

Actor Sam Waterston hosts this ten-part series that revisits ancient cultures on four continents. Dramatic re-enactments recall key historic events, and attractive location footage provides viewers with interesting information about the featured cultures. This episode looks at some of the trade routes established by the ancient, sub-Saharan tribes of Africa.”

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