East Africans more "civilized" than West Africans?

Burton didn’t go out of his way to tag any of the peoples he met “savage” - you’re thinking of the more usual British explorer of that period. Burton is famous for learning languages, cultures and customs. (Not that he always admired them, but he never “insisted the natives speak English” in any form.)

As the Somalis overran Burton’s first expeditionary camp on the Somali shore, killed his partner, grievously wounded Speke by torture, and jammed a javelin through Burton’s face, he had a low opinion of them.

When he finally visited Harar later on, the Arab-African traders who ran the city were unsurprised at what happened to him in the coastal strip, which they avoided except with large, well-manned and -armed caravans.

RFB’s First Footsteps in East Africa, if you need more.

Not quite: what you actually finished the sentence with was “…especially compared to its Asian counterparts.” I’m not entering the fray here, just speculating on what he took issue with, which could be interpreted as dissing Japan’s neighbors.

Moving this thread to Great Debates, with apologies to Colibri. I believe that this sort of discussion needs more accountability than humble opinions.

Thanks. It’s quite unfortunate that they were so scared of the eastern coast when it was Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia who came from the western side to sack the walled city of Harar and incorporate it into his growing empire a little over 40 years later. Such is history.

I didn’t say Japan is the most civilized or the only country that is civilized. I said it was one of the most. Given that many Asian countries are quite familiar with third-world level poverty (isn’t there a thread over-yonder about cannibalistic North Koreans?), Japan stands out. This was especially true back in the days of the Nanking Massacre.

I should have said “especially compared to some of its Asian counterparts”. Mea culpa. But that mistake hardly warrants a drive-by rolly eyes, like my greater point was incorrect or something.

Works for me. :slight_smile:

I think both East Africa and West Africa are far too large and contain far too many countries, cultures and languages to make such classifications anything but grossly simplistic.

Both are quite “civilized,” having been organized into agricultural communities for thousands of years.

East and West Africa are made out of countries, each with their own unique history, geography, tensions, and modern politics. Sierra Leone, for example, has gone through some pretty brutal times, while Ghana has been pretty relaxed. I don’t think it’s meaningful to make broader comparisons.

Yeah, well seeing as the thread starter is 1. VERY new to this board 2. posted one VERY inflammatory OP 3. posted nothing since… It might be safe to say that this thread was a “drive-by” trolling. Either way I see no reason why we can’t inject fact and history into it. Its just sad that we get so few chances to honestly discuss African history/politics on this board without ahistorical idiots and racialists gleefully shitting in the threads non-stop with their “one-minded” agenda.

They should engage in more civilized methods of slaughter, like high altitude bombing.

I remember the Mau Mau uprisings in Kenya

and the terror instilled by it. Recently the actions of the British have come to light. Both sides did horrible things. Mau Mau had machetes, and the British had armed forces and concentration camps.

Google Mau Mau and you will be surprised. Here is a link to get you started: http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article3650160.ece

Well, no worries, but in your original statement you didn’t say “one of the most” or “some.” Leaving aside the very recent problems of warlordism and revolution in China, which Japan itself had a very large hand in creating, I’d find it very surprising that anyone would assert that Japan was a “more civilized” country than any of its near neighbors–except in the ugly “Social Darwinian” sense that the Japanese themselves were using to justify their aggression in the first place.

Put it this way: given the time and place you were talking about, replace “Japan” with “Germany” and “Asian” with “European” and you might get a glimmer of the reason for the :dubious:.

Perhaps you meant “most developed” or “most industrialized”. I’m not sure what makes a country more or less “civilized” than another if they both represent “civilizations”-- that is, a level of society with governments, writing, division of labor, etc.

Well, I know that Ethiopia, right next door to Somalia, was the one nation in sub-Saharan Africa to independently develop a written language; there’s one element of civilization right there.

The Ge’ez script actually pre-dates the modern nation of Ethiopia and was developed in the kingdom of Aksum for the (now dead) Ge’ez language; however the script is still used by many of it’s daughter languages currently spoken in the Horn of Africa (kinda like how the Latin script is still used for modern European languages).

Also of note, there’s quite a few written scripts developed in Africa; everything from the anciently dead to the brand new. I, personly, find Vai and N’Ko to be very interesting. However, the most common script in use for most of Africa has been Ajami (Arabic adaptations) in traditionally Islamic areas and various Latin based scripts since the colonial era.

Yes, but, before the colonial period, there was no writing in sub-Saharan Africa outside the Sudan/Ethiopia/Somalia region, except for Arabic-derived script in Muslim regions. I ran a thread asking why not back in 2004.

Interesting thread. However, I don’t understand why you cut out all African areas with a strong documented history of literacy 1. the horn of Africa, 2. all Islamic areas of Africa and then 3. limit the discussion to pre-colonialism?

IMHO you’re really no longer talking about Africa as we know it, but limiting the discussion solely to central and southern parts, pre-1800’s. There’s not much to say except that these specific areas were only intermittently exposed to the outside world as they didn’t lay on any trade routes, thus they did not get exposed to commonly used technologies. Not much else.

An expanded discussion could talk about how in the 1600’s Ajami was used from the western (Hausa, Yoruba) to the eastern part of Africa (kiswahili). This was neither unique or limited to Africa as Arabic based scripts were the norm for the entire Islamic world from Turkey to Northern India. Also if you expanded the discussion to post-colonialism you could learn about the rise of widespread literacy that came with the almost universal adoption of modified Latin based scripts; of which is neither unique or limited to Africa as this has occurred throughout the modern world from Vietnam to South America (Hell even English itself stole the Latin script for its own use).

IOW, there was no writing except in places where there was writing.


I guess what I’m trying to say is that when you (seemingly) cut out all evidence to the contrary you get the very answers you cooked.

In reading BrainGlutton’s old thread, it seems that Tamerlane beat me to the punch by ~9 years (that’s “skillz”).

That should probably be Turkey to Indonesia, but like Turkey (and most of Africa) Indonesia currently uses a Latin based script.