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Thread: Why didn't middle and lower Africa ever get civilized?

  1. #1 Why didn't middle and lower Africa ever get civilized? 
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    I figure one possibility is that it stayed so uncivilized because civilized people could never make it down there without getting sick from things the locals were immune to, but I'm not sure that's enough by itself.

    Asia was just so far away from Europe the trip wouldn't be worth the trouble (in either direction), except for the occasional merchant. And yet, both continents independently managed to develop highly civilized cultures. Or maybe they just both got it from the middle east? (Funny irony, that one).

    Was Ethiopia ever really a power?

    I guess I'm just wondering why, of the three connected continents Europe, Asia, and Africa : Africa was so full of people no more civilized than the North American Indians.

    I know this could turn racist really fast, if the wrong kind of person decides to post, but I'm really looking for other considerations.


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  3. #2 Re: Why didn't middle and lower Africa ever get civilized? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    I figure one possibility is that it stayed so uncivilized because civilized people could never make it down there without getting sick from things the locals were immune to, but I'm not sure that's enough by itself.

    Asia was just so far away from Europe the trip wouldn't be worth the trouble (in either direction), except for the occasional merchant. And yet, both continents independently managed to develop highly civilized cultures. Or maybe they just both got it from the middle east? (Funny irony, that one).

    Was Ethiopia ever really a power?

    I guess I'm just wondering why, of the three connected continents Europe, Asia, and Africa : Africa was so full of people no more civilized than the North American Indians.

    I know this could turn racist really fast, if the wrong kind of person decides to post, but I'm really looking for other considerations.
    The last time I read history books was long, long time ago.

    Euh ... Asian countries were chosen by European ones to be imperialized and to be colonialized because Asian countries were rich of materials, such as spices and silk. European countries needed spices much.

    African countries, on the other hand, didn't have much to be taken.

    Apparently.


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    A few thousand years ago, some of the first civilizations we know about were in Iran(Persia), Iraq(Mesopotemia), and Egypt, back then Europeans were almost cavemen.

    Then it appears the mediterranean became a hub of trade and travel. You had the Greeks and later on the Roman Empire which brought aspects of civilization to western europe.

    Exchages with the middle of africa were probably few and far between because of access.

    Meso America civilization apparently emerge independantly.
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  5. #4 Re: Why didn't middle and lower Africa ever get civilized? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by georginho_juventusygr
    The last time I read history books was long, long time ago.

    Euh ... Asian countries were chosen by European ones to be imperialized and to be colonialized because Asian countries were rich of materials, such as spices and silk. European countries needed spices much.

    African countries, on the other hand, didn't have much to be taken.

    Apparently.
    That explanation doesn't sound right at all. There was a thriving trade for centuries. Africa provided ivory, gold, and slaves for the European and American trade.
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  6. #5  
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    I think it has a lot to do with the environment of Africa as well as the political and economic atmosphere of the area compared to the environment and economic atmosphere of Europe. One is a completely harsh desert climate while the other is a lush agricultural climate.
    "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt" - Bertrand Russell
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    Quote Originally Posted by BumFluff
    One is a completely harsh desert climate while the other is a lush agricultural climate.
    What? We are talking about Sub-Saharan Africa, aren't we? Zimbabwe had some very productive farms until Mugabe killed the white farmers and took their property.
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    Unless you are using a different definition of civilised then I must disagree with your basic premise.

    Mapungubwe
    Findings in the area were typical of an Iron Age community that flourished between 1200 and 1300 AD.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/af...f-society.html

    Great Zimbabwe
    The ruins of Great Zimbabwe – or Dzimbahwe as they are known traditionally - are a unique testimony to the Bantu civilization of the Shona between the 11th and 15th centuries.
    http://www.ngoko.com/zimbabwe/great_zimbabwe.php

    Kush
    The gold processing facility supplied the precious metal to one of the richest kingdoms of antiquity and the first to arise in the sub-Sahara - the kingdom of Kush, which dominated a 750-mile-long sprawl across what is now northern Sudan.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/20...aeology.uknews

    et cetera

    But if you are looking for an answer then examine the differing nature of agriculture north and south of the Sahara.
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    Yea there have been highly developped civilizations in Africa, also sub-Sahara, although they clearly didn't grow into world empires.

    One hypothesis: investing in irrigation and plowing technology gives a high return in countries with a somewhat temperate climate and a suitable soil (one often follows from the other; both too much and too few rain gives a shallow, unfertile soil). In Europe, China and parts of the America's the thick, fertile soils could produce stable crop yields if irrigated, without much risk of soil degradation. The same field can give somewhat predictable yields for centuries, so you can build cities filled with people who do other things than agriculture. However without big investments in irrigation and plow technology temperate zone lands give very limited food.

    I think most of Sub-Saharan Africa has exactly the reverse situation: without irrigation and plows you can still get reasonable amounts of food from the land (more fruit and game available than in temperate zones), and irrigation gives very limited benefit. If you clear a tropical jungle and plow the ground it gives high yields for a year or two, but then it's exhausted and may turn into hard Laterite (more suitable for making bricks than for agriculture). So the investment is less needed, and gives a far lower return.

    Ergo Sub-Saharan African communities got by without irrigation and plowing technology and had little incentive to develop them. But it means no big cities and a lack of 'technology-push' that could start up the technological and scientific development that Europe and East-Asia experienced.

    Problem of the hypothesis: North-America doesn't fit. It's just as suitable for irrigation and plowing as Europe and East-Asia, but the incentives didn't translate into technological development and largescale urbanization until Europeans applied there what they had developped at home.
    Perhaps there's an element of chance to whether people recognize and use the opportunities available to them. If say 6 world regions have the necessary environment (North-America, Meso-America, Europe, Middle East, India, China) and 5 out of 6 regions spawn highly developped civilizations then that may still work as a 'probabilistic theory'.
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    I will not tire of referring questions like these straight to Jared Diamond's magisterial Guns, germs and steel, and in this case specifically to his chapter called "How Africa became black".

    FWIW, the book is entirely anti-racist and he provides very plausible explanations, along with a wealth of research and references as to why (and I think Kojax you got it in one) livestock and crops initially domesticated in the so-called fertile crescent either took so long to reach sub-Saharan Africa that the Europeans got there first by boat, or could not get there at all and therefore had to wait upon independent domestication of, as it happens, less fruitful local stock.
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  11. #10  
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    Africa is still rich in resources, right?
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    Why didn't middle and lower Africa ever get civilized? - wow how ignorant and eurocentric!
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    Let me just point something out in case someone doesn't know: Africa is a VERY LARGE continent with a wide variety of climates, including grass lands, tropical and sub-tropical environments etc. While clearing relatively poor forest soil limits the life of a new clearing, the same is not true for the vast grass fields. I just get the feeling that people regularly talk of "Africa" with a simplistic and vague understanding about it.

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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by ishmaelblues
    Why didn't middle and lower Africa ever get civilized? - wow how ignorant and eurocentric!
    The civilisation they're talking about is what everybody wants. Like roads, and water piped from the mountains. It's not Eurocentric.
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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    I figure one possibility is that it stayed so uncivilized because civilized people could never make it down there without getting sick from things the locals were immune to, but I'm not sure that's enough by itself.

    Asia was just so far away from Europe the trip wouldn't be worth the trouble (in either direction), except for the occasional merchant. And yet, both continents independently managed to develop highly civilized cultures. Or maybe they just both got it from the middle east? (Funny irony, that one).

    Was Ethiopia ever really a power?

    I guess I'm just wondering why, of the three connected continents Europe, Asia, and Africa : Africa was so full of people no more civilized than the North American Indians.

    I know this could turn racist really fast, if the wrong kind of person decides to post, but I'm really looking for other considerations.
    Um, first, what is your definition of "civilized" I think the definition followed by the Europeans was that to become civilized their society must partake in land grabbing, technology theft, and philosophy theft.

    Second, Ever heard of South Africa?

    Thirdly, You need to read your history books, while you mention mid to south Africa, you neglect civilizations such as Ancient Egypt, Kush, and more, (just as Ophiolite pointed out in an earlier post)

    Additionally, Africa is the world's second most-populous continent The first known example of the domestication of plants for agricultural purposes on the continent occurred in the Sahel region circa 5000 BC, when sorghum and African rice began to be cultivated. Around this time, and in the same region, the guinea fowl became domesticated.

    Sounds pretty civilized to me!


    You act as though the inhabitants cannot become civilized because they have less contact with "White Folk"
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    civilized people could never make it down there without getting sick from things the locals were immune to, but I'm not sure that's enough by itself.
    But I say that this very interaction between Europeans and the inhabitants of Africa is what hindered its development the most.

    Most of the Diamond mines in Africa are owned by white families who gained it by land-grabbing.

    Sounds pretty eurocentric to me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuperNatendo
    Thirdly, You need to read your history books, while you mention mid to south Africa, you neglect civilizations such as Ancient Egypt, Kush, and more, (just as Ophiolite pointed out in an earlier post)
    Last time I checked, they were north of the Sahara. The OP was about Sub-Sahara.
    Additionally, Africa is the world's second most-populous continent The first known example of the domestication of plants for agricultural purposes on the continent occurred in the Sahel region circa 5000 BC, when sorghum and African rice began to be cultivated. Around this time, and in the same region, the guinea fowl became domesticated.

    Sounds pretty civilized to me!


    You act as though the inhabitants cannot become civilized because they have less contact with "White Folk" ... But I say that this very interaction between Europeans and the inhabitants of Africa is what hindered its development the most.

    Most of the Diamond mines in Africa are owned by white families who gained it by land-grabbing.

    Sounds pretty eurocentric to me.
    No need to get on your high horse. Kojax asked a valid question, though probably too broad a generalization and politically incorrect. I think everybody knew what he meant. How about if it were restated as most of subsaharan Africa is economically underdeveloped. The explanation about exploitation by Europeans is rather dubious. The Americas were exploited too, and so were India, China, etc.
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  17. #16  
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuperNatendo
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    I figure one possibility is that it stayed so uncivilized because civilized people could never make it down there without getting sick from things the locals were immune to, but I'm not sure that's enough by itself.

    Asia was just so far away from Europe the trip wouldn't be worth the trouble (in either direction), except for the occasional merchant. And yet, both continents independently managed to develop highly civilized cultures. Or maybe they just both got it from the middle east? (Funny irony, that one).

    Was Ethiopia ever really a power?

    I guess I'm just wondering why, of the three connected continents Europe, Asia, and Africa : Africa was so full of people no more civilized than the North American Indians.

    I know this could turn racist really fast, if the wrong kind of person decides to post, but I'm really looking for other considerations.
    Um, first, what is your definition of "civilized" I think the definition followed by the Europeans was that to become civilized their society must partake in land grabbing, technology theft, and philosophy theft.
    Ok, land grabbing I can see as wrong, but technology "theft"? Unless you mean stealing patented technologies and then patenting them so nobody else can use them, how is it a "theft"? And.... philosophy "theft"?

    One of the things that keeps so much of the third world as poor as it is, is the adamant refusal of many cultures to make use of any idea or technology they didn't think of themselves. The world would be a far, far, far better place if more people would "steal" technology and philosophy from other cultures.

    Japan is very interesting for me to look at, because they seem to be about the only culture on Earth that has been able to consistently assimilate and use modern technologies invented elsewhere in a way that makes them competitive with Western European cultures. I'm curious sometimes to know what made them so able to do this, when most of their neighbors didn't.




    Second, Ever heard of South Africa?

    Thirdly, You need to read your history books, while you mention mid to south Africa, you neglect civilizations such as Ancient Egypt, Kush, and more, (just as Ophiolite pointed out in an earlier post)

    Additionally, Africa is the world's second most-populous continent The first known example of the domestication of plants for agricultural purposes on the continent occurred in the Sahel region circa 5000 BC, when sorghum and African rice began to be cultivated. Around this time, and in the same region, the guinea fowl became domesticated.

    Sounds pretty civilized to me!
    Yes, one has to almost laugh at the irony. To look at the middle east today and imagine that they were once the most civilized culture in the world, kind of requires a sense of humor.

    I know they made it out of the stone age before us, but they don't seem to have made it any further than the iron age afterward.

    You act as though the inhabitants cannot become civilized because they have less contact with "White Folk"
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    civilized people could never make it down there without getting sick from things the locals were immune to, but I'm not sure that's enough by itself.
    But I say that this very interaction between Europeans and the inhabitants of Africa is what hindered its development the most.

    Most of the Diamond mines in Africa are owned by white families who gained it by land-grabbing.

    Sounds pretty eurocentric to me.
    Trying to separately and independently re-invent the wheel is never as efficient a process as simply adapting the design that's already there.

    Europe got the printing press first, and that's all it takes to be the origin of modern society. If it had happened in Africa first, we'd be the ones learning from them. That's not "ethno-centrism". That's just acknowledging the power of a single chance happening to shape world events everywhere.

    I don't think European "superiority" is why it happened that way. I ascribe it to random fate. However I'm not so silly as to try and discount the value of that event. Education does make a difference, and wealthy societies are able to educate their children better, so the wealthiest societies are actually the best place to go for knowledge.
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    By theft I mean taking the ideas and not giving credit. I for one wholly believe in the sharing of ideas, one of the reasons I use linux, But in linux, the ideas are still credited to the original programmer.

    Also, it seems to be normal for Europeans to claim, "first man (insert achievement here)" but what they really meant was "first European (insert achievement here)"

    As for the exploitation of Asia the America's etc... Doesn't that just strengthen my argument?

    Am I supposed to agree with everything the OP said? I am simply pointing out that there is and has been civilization in Africa, including sub-sahara regions.

    Did it not sound a little dubious for the OP to say stuff like the civilized people couldn't live in the same place as "the Locals"?
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuperNatendo
    By theft I mean taking the ideas and not giving credit. I for one wholly believe in the sharing of ideas, one of the reasons I use linux, But in linux, the ideas are still credited to the original programmer.

    Also, it seems to be normal for Europeans to claim, "first man (insert achievement here)" but what they really meant was "first European (insert achievement here)"

    As for the exploitation of Asia the America's etc... Doesn't that just strengthen my argument?
    It strengthens your argument if the objective is to assign credit or blame to groups of people. It doesn't if you are trying to explain the historical fact of development of Asia and America versus the non-development of Africa (generally speaking). Or, do you not agree that is a historical fact?
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  20. #19  
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuperNatendo
    By theft I mean taking the ideas and not giving credit. I for one wholly believe in the sharing of ideas, one of the reasons I use linux, But in linux, the ideas are still credited to the original programmer.

    Also, it seems to be normal for Europeans to claim, "first man (insert achievement here)" but what they really meant was "first European (insert achievement here)"
    Well, one of the unfortunate side effects of getting the printing press first is that you get to write the version of history most people will read. So, yeah. I'm sure a lot of unfair credit was given to Europeans for discoveries that had happened elsewhere.

    I'm not sure what the material harm is, however. Who really cares who invented what, as long as the technology is available to everyone? It's one of those intangible "self-esteem" type issues that only matter to overly egotistical ethno-centrists who need special reasons to believe that they're important people.

    It's like those people that do ancestral research to try and tie their family history through a line of kings or other nobility. Who really cares? Unless you're a king right now, it's all a bunch of smoke and mirrors.

    If someone doesn't have noble ancestry should they feel bad about themselves? If you come from a culture that never did anything of merit in the whole history of the world, does that mean you can't accomplish something in the future?


    As for the exploitation of Asia the America's etc... Doesn't that just strengthen my argument?

    Am I supposed to agree with everything the OP said? I am simply pointing out that there is and has been civilization in Africa, including sub-sahara regions.
    You're right. Egypt has some of the earliest civilized history known to human kind. I guess I'm just wondering why the people the European colonists encountered in the 17 and 1800's were so primitive.

    Did it not sound a little dubious for the OP to say stuff like the civilized people couldn't live in the same place as "the Locals"?
    The locals had anti-bodies to a lot of diseases that Europeans were susceptible to.
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    Kojax please assure SuperNatendo that what you mean here by "civilization" is not "ideas", "philosophy", "superiority", or "white folk" (his stated your definition) but rather more along the lines of "aqueducts, sawmills, farmer's almanacs". That's so, right?
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    Africa WAS civilized before the Europeans came. There were civilized nations and kingdoms in Africa.

    What is your definition of civilized? Some people seem to think that some cultures are simply inept when it comes to technology, I am of the mindset that the technology you perfect is related to the climate, wildlife, plantlife, etc native to the region your society originates from.

    For instance: The climate and wildlife in sub-sahara africa was not very conductive to shipbuilding, at least not for the people who didn't live along the coast. Whereas the UK is an island-nation which means shipbuilding was very diverse and that technology was able to flourish.

    Due to these ships, the Europeans were able to travel relatively quickly around the globe to other cultures and assimilate the other culture's technology.

    Just because the African's did not have this ability to travel does not mean that their ability to produce technological advances are somehow inferior.
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  23. #22  
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuperNatendo
    What is your definition of civilized? Some people seem to think...
    Back up. What are your definitions of "civilized" and "uncivilized"? If they include words like "inept" and "inferior" then you're bound to take the discussion all wrong.
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    From the Wikipedia article:

    A civilization or civilisation is human society or culture group normally defined as a complex society characterized by the practice of agriculture and settlement in cities.

    Compared with less complex cultures, members of a civilization are organized into a diverse division of labour and an intricate social hierarchy.

    '''
    Civilization can be used in a normative sense as well: if complex and urban cultures are assumed to be superior to other "savage" or "barbarian" cultures, then "civilization" is used as a synonym for "superiority of certain groups." In a similar sense, civilization can mean "refinement of thought, manners, or taste".[5] However, in its most widely used definition, civilization is a descriptive term for a relatively complex agricultural and urban culture.
    I suggest we forget the normative sense of the word and stick to the basic definition.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pendragon
    Problem of the hypothesis: North-America doesn't fit. It's just as suitable for irrigation and plowing as Europe and East-Asia, but the incentives didn't translate into technological development and largescale urbanization until Europeans applied there what they had developped at home.
    Perhaps there's an element of chance to whether people recognize and use the opportunities available to them. If say 6 world regions have the necessary environment (North-America, Meso-America, Europe, Middle East, India, China) and 5 out of 6 regions spawn highly developped civilizations then that may still work as a 'probabilistic theory'.
    Well some North American natives had agriculture and built small villages, but they practiced nomadic lifestyles for the most part, they would farm in one spot for 20 years pack up their wooden homes and move on. I think though the main thing that held north american cultures from developing more complex civilizations was a culture of stagnation, a reverance of keeping things the way they are. They also had no written language, and very small populations.
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    This is a misconception.

    In fact, some tribes did indeed have written language, these are being newly discovered.

    Many regions had populations numbering in the thousands in pre-columbian eras. The reason the history books claim smaller numbers is that the small pox pandemic killed off large numbers quickly before the rest of the continent was explored since there were many commonly traveled inter-tribal "roads".

    Also, not all tribes were nomadic, in fact, many tribes, the Cherokee, Creek, Iroquois, Choctaw, Aztecs, Mayans, Seminoles, and more had established towns that were occupied for longer than some of the currently established cities in the Americas today.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuperNatendo
    This is a misconception.

    In fact, some tribes did indeed have written language, these are being newly discovered.

    Many regions had populations numbering in the thousands in pre-columbian eras. The reason the history books claim smaller numbers is that the small pox pandemic killed off large numbers quickly before the rest of the continent was explored since there were many commonly traveled inter-tribal "roads".

    Also, not all tribes were nomadic, in fact, many tribes, the Cherokee, Creek, Iroquois, Choctaw, Aztecs, Mayans, Seminoles, and more had established towns that were occupied for longer than some of the currently established cities in the Americas today.
    The Iroquois are not sedentary, they would stay in one place for periods of 10-20 years and then move. Mesoamerican civilizations are distinct from the North American natives in religion, culture, and language and should not be grouped with them. Their populations in Canada and the USA numbered around 500,000 dispersed over thousands of miles and these include thousands of distinct cultures. It is in fact incorrect to even group Iroquois together, their language and pseudo-sedimentary lifestyle being the only unifying quality. There were 8 tribes, all very distinct and rarely unified prior to European intervention. Huron, Blackfoot, Apache, Dekota, and Inuit were all nomadic.

    The Cree are most definitely nomadic as well, I've never heard of natives called "creeks".
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    Certainly the mouth of the Fraser has been continuously occupied, and there are strategic narrows along British Columbia's coast that would rarely see a day without someone passing through. This fjord geography kinda dictates where people live. However the sites did frequently change hands, and I suppose houses got routinely burned down in this warfare.
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    Quote Originally Posted by i_feel_tiredsleepy

    The Iroquois are not sedentary, they would stay in one place for periods of 10-20 years and then move. Mesoamerican civilizations are distinct from the North American natives in religion, culture, and language and should not be grouped with them. Their populations in Canada and the USA numbered around 500,000 dispersed over thousands of miles and these include thousands of distinct cultures. It is in fact incorrect to even group Iroquois together, their language and pseudo-sedimentary lifestyle being the only unifying quality. There were 8 tribes, all very distinct and rarely unified prior to European intervention. Huron, Blackfoot, Apache, Dekota, and Inuit were all nomadic.

    The Cree are most definitely nomadic as well, I've never heard of natives called "creeks".
    Well then we shouldn't group America's current residents in one group because if what you said above applies to modern Americans as well then since there are thousands of distinct cultures within American society we can't claim one unified American civilization! People often group a civilization together as long as they all were under the same governing body. To me, this is enough to group the Iroquois without ignoring their differences, just as modern nations and civilizations are grouped together even though there are diverse cultures involved.

    Besides, this still ignores the fact that some of these other tribes i listed lived in permanent established cities.

    Heres some education for you on the Creek American Indians: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creek_indians

    Hell, they spoke different languages among themselves, which shows that their organized confederacy-based government and their civilization was very advanced indeed!

    The evidence points that the American Indians had been sharing ideas, technology, and even government systems. This most likely points to a possibility that these tribes were not so isolated or uncivilized.

    Either way I think this thread is getting off topic...
    "It's no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense." - Mark Twain
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  30. #29  
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    Actually.... American civilization is pretty homogeneous. There again, you can thank the printing press for its ability to spread a common culture over a large group of people with little or no variation across the group. Modern media, and internet of course reinforced the effect.

    The only way you get diverse cultures is by a breakdown in communication. If the groups were rapidly and freely exchanging information, they'll begin to agree with each other over time, at least in many areas.
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    Back to the OP,
    I was stumbling around the internet, when I found a very interesting video.

    Here is the link:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/198

    The man speaking in the video is a mathematician who studies geometric fractals. The video is long, but I highly recommend watching it in its entirety.

    Anyway, he starts talking about how he noticed African villages incorporating these complex mathematical shapes in their buildings, braids, and art.

    Further on he goes to talk about how the Africans had a very good grasp on binary mathematics, and that European travelers in Africa actually got their understanding of binary from these African nations. In other words, if it were not for Africa, we might not be typing on computers and this very forum would not have been possible!

    Just goes to show that you should never make a quick judgment on the abilities of a civilization based on its cultural differences from your own.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuperNatendo
    Back to the OP,
    I was stumbling around the internet, when I found a very interesting video.

    Here is the link:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/198

    The man speaking in the video is a mathematician who studies geometric fractals. The video is long, but I highly recommend watching it in its entirety.

    Anyway, he starts talking about how he noticed African villages incorporating these complex mathematical shapes in their buildings, braids, and art.

    Further on he goes to talk about how the Africans had a very good grasp on binary mathematics, and that European travelers in Africa actually got their understanding of binary from these African nations. In other words, if it were not for Africa, we might not be typing on computers and this very forum would not have been possible!
    That is actually a very good point.

    I have to agree that often times all the credit for a discovery ends up going to whoever first managed to package the invention for public consumption, and we end up ignoring the people who laid the foundation by discovering all the necessary components for it.

    Hardly anybody knows the name of the guy who invented Dos. Bill Gates managed to market it to IBM as an operating system, and became a household name.


    Just goes to show that you should never make a quick judgment on the abilities of a civilization based on its cultural differences from your own.
    Mind you, I'm not basing my assessment on cultural differences. I'm basing it entirely on their level of economic development. Culturally Africa has a lot of very interesting things about it.

    What I tend to do is discount cultures that don't accomplish anything, or at least don't seem to be doing so in the modern era.

    So I guess my real question is: What is it about African culture that prevents them from organizing into a modern society with a modern economy?
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    Why didn't middle and lower Africa ever get civilized? - wow how ignorant and eurocentric!

    The civilisation they're talking about is what everybody wants. Like roads, and water piped from the mountains. It's not Eurocentric.[quote]

    wow how ignorant and eurocentric!
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  34. #33  
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    Quote Originally Posted by ishmaelblues
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    The civilisation they're talking about is what everybody wants.
    wow how ignorant and eurocentric!
    Just the opposite. Take Kojax's filter:
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    What I tend to do is discount cultures that don't accomplish anything
    ..and add the "platinum rule" (as they wish) - now what do you have?

    "I tend to discount cultures that don't accomplish anything on their own terms."

    IMHO it is more than fair to rate a people as they would rate themselves. So, what do they want? What does any sane person want today? Of course we all want the highest quality of life available - not potholed dirt roads nor scrubbing laundry in the village pond. We want a supervised playground for the kids and fast food in the microwave oven - ask anybody of any culture: "That would be nice..."

    Kojax used shorthand because we all share a common vision, common standards. That Europe largely embodies the ideal is circumstantial - the topic of debate.

    I believe the suggestion anybody on Earth would rather live with the same substandard crap grandpa & grandma did, ignorant, possibly Eurocentric, and definitely insulting.
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    Just look at where people are emigrating from and immigrating to. Of course, there are some African countries that you really don't see a lot of people trying to leave, so who knows? Maybe they're happy with what they have.
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    Just look at where people are emigrating from and immigrating to. Of course, there are some African countries that you really don't see a lot of people trying to leave, so who knows? Maybe they're happy with what they have.

    I think there's a lot of hopeless optimism in that part of the world, too, however. Maybe they think things will improve if they just hold on for a few more generations.
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    I'm not sure I'm talking about "being civil" more like giving a reason to why the nations in Africa never advanced with the rest of the western world.

    Fairly textbook, Europeans went to Africa for resources, and they found a lot so they stripped the land clean of resources and shipped it out to be made into goods. They would have done the same to the North America but they had an ocean between them so making permanent manufacturing plants in North America would have been much simpler. In turn people were encouraged to go live in NA so they could be taxed on the things they buy there.

    When the Euros left Africa they left it in a mess, but with North America they couldn't really "leave"

    *Textbook has been wrong before, all wrongs are the books fault not the posters =P
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  38. #37  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trix
    Fairly textbook, Europeans went to Africa for resources, and they found a lot so they stripped the land clean of resources and shipped it out to be made into goods. They would have done the same to the North America but they had an ocean between them so making permanent manufacturing plants in North America would have been much simpler. In turn people were encouraged to go live in NA so they could be taxed on the things they buy there.
    Shipping distances have never been a major factor, to those who do have ships. Western Canada was "opened" by British Empire before Suez or Panama canals, even in the age of sail, around the capes, and for what precious resource? Lumber! Yes it was cheaper to send lumberjacks around the planet and sail spars home through storm and scurvy, than to buy it off the Russians or whomever - Europe had plenty. Clippers used to set out for Pacific Canada laden in bricks - better than an empty hold, and it cost a pittance in the scheme of things.

    Around the Earth for bricks and logs. No, Africa's relative proximity to Europe can't be have mattered to imperialism.
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    You do raise an interesting point, though, Trix, that Africa was near useless as a place to settle, or send excess European population to. Nobody wanted to live in a place where they'd be constantly catching diseases.

    So, the worker supply had to come from the indigenous population, because they could handle the Malaria and such, but Europe still wanted the goods, so they found ways to divide and separate the various cultures so they'd have a cheap source of labor.

    Now, it's backfired. The former colonies are mostly in such a state of disarray and constant civil war that nobody wants to try and invest or set up any infrastructure because they know it'll just get torn down. No infrastructure == no developement == no modern economy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    You do raise an interesting point, though, Trix, that Africa was near useless as a place to settle, or send excess European population to. Nobody wanted to live in a place where they'd be constantly catching diseases.
    In case you hadn't noticed, there are white people living in Africa who did not succumb to some tropical disease, notably in South Africa and Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia.
    So, the worker supply had to come from the indigenous population, because they could handle the Malaria and such, but Europe still wanted the goods, so they found ways to divide and separate the various cultures so they'd have a cheap source of labor.
    How did they divide and separate? If you mean they bought slaves, and this encouraged tribal warfare, that's probably true. But the Europeans did not invent the African slave trade. They didn't really get into it until they had set up American colonies in the 16th century. The Tuaregs were trading slaves by the overland route in the 11th century.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    You do raise an interesting point, though, Trix, that Africa was near useless as a place to settle, or send excess European population to. Nobody wanted to live in a place where they'd be constantly catching diseases.
    In case you hadn't noticed, there are white people living in Africa who did not succumb to some tropical disease, notably in South Africa and Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia.
    Well, the climate is a little more agreeable that far south. Every account I've ever seen of a group of Europeans trying to go southward from Egypt, however, seems to involve some tale of people getting sick, and either dying, or coming near to it.

    That's why I was saying about the diseases. I guess this points out how much I'm tending to over-generalize about the continent, however. South Africa is probably about as modern as any other country dominated by people of W. European descent.

    That may just be because it's easier for Europeans to trade with Europe, or it could be because non-European cultures have to give up elements of their culture in order to adapt Europe's "modern" ways, while Europeans don't so much.


    So, the worker supply had to come from the indigenous population, because they could handle the Malaria and such, but Europe still wanted the goods, so they found ways to divide and separate the various cultures so they'd have a cheap source of labor.
    How did they divide and separate? If you mean they bought slaves, and this encouraged tribal warfare, that's probably true. But the Europeans did not invent the African slave trade. They didn't really get into it until they had set up American colonies in the 16th century. The Tuaregs were trading slaves by the overland route in the 11th century.
    I don't know if they did it so much on purpose. It seems, however, like a lot of the political lines that divide the countries in Africa, were not, and never would be, the lines the local population would have chosen.

    You see this kind of problem in Iraq. (I know Iraq's not Africa, but I know more about Iraq) : In Iraq you've got 3 distinct peoples: Sunnis, Kurds, and Shia.

    If a Sunni ever takes power (like Sadaam), the other Sunnis are going to expect him/her to show them favoritism because in their minds he's one of them, not one of the Shia, nor one of the Kurds.

    The Shia and Kurds both naturally forsee this, and will refuse to follow that leader unless they're beaten into it. So, basically it's impossible to have anything but brutal dictatorships that are constantly being contested by the under-represented groups (unless they're just extremely brutal, like Sadaam's regime).

    It's not like the USA where all Americans are "one of us". There's not going to be much of a common sense of "us" in a country who's borders were forced on them by a foreign power like that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    It's not like the USA where all Americans are "one of us". There's not going to be much of a common sense of "us" in a country who's borders were forced on them by a foreign power like that.
    The colonial period in Africa lasted from the mid nineteenth century until World War II. It doesn't go very far toward explaining what happened before or since.
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  43. #42 colonial period lasted until 2nd World War? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    It's not like the USA where all Americans are "one of us". There's not going to be much of a common sense of "us" in a country who's borders were forced on them by a foreign power like that.
    The colonial period in Africa lasted from the mid nineteenth century until World War II. It doesn't go very far toward explaining what happened before or since.
    I was under impression that it lasted until 60s or 70s with Belgian and French colonies like Congo.
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  44. #43 Re: colonial period lasted until 2nd World War? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by wienertakesall
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    It's not like the USA where all Americans are "one of us". There's not going to be much of a common sense of "us" in a country who's borders were forced on them by a foreign power like that.
    The colonial period in Africa lasted from the mid nineteenth century until World War II. It doesn't go very far toward explaining what happened before or since.
    I was under impression that it lasted until 60s or 70s with Belgian and French colonies like Congo.
    You are right. I guess I misread something I read on the internet. Most of the countries were independent by the 1950s and 60s. Belgian Congo became independent in 1960. Still, that's less than a century of colonization, for the most part.
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    Well, if you screw a culture up enough, it can take a long time for them to recover. In Afrika's case, I think it has just as much to do with giving them technology faster than they could handle it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Well, if you screw a culture up enough, it can take a long time for them to recover. In Afrika's case, I think it has just as much to do with giving them technology faster than they could handle it.
    But Africa acquired technology more gradually than just about anywhere. Look, Europeans had a single generation coping with the seemingly out of control spread of first steam rail and iron horses, then internal combustion autos and tractors. We were putting beasts of burden down so fast that tanners couldn't handle all the carcasses. Same story with other techs like medicine, literacy, etc. Technologies hit Europe like tidal waves. This screwed with culture in a big way!
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    Did anyone mention Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel? That seemed to have a pretty solid environmental explanation for the issue.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Did anyone mention Diamond's G, G & S?
    No, that's too easy and would end debate. Nobody mentioned it. 8)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Did anyone mention Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel? That seemed to have a pretty solid environmental explanation for the issue.
    Yes, it was mentioned on the first page. I didn't read the book. Does it cover what happened after the European contact began?
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    I've just started reading it, but a quick scan of the contents and a dip into the odd scattered paragraph strongly suggested that it addressed the very questions being raised here. I'll try to remember to provide a brief sysnopsis once I've finished it.
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