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Old 09-06-2012, 11:36 AM
 
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I remember seeing this on tv back in the 90's. It's on the Benin Kingdom of Nigeria and it focuses on the famous artwork that came from the the kingdom.




KINGDOM OF BRONZE - YouTube
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Old 09-07-2012, 12:04 PM
 
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I managed to find some information on Benin that was written by early European explorers and traders who visited the region.



Quote:
Some of our best information on Benin in its heyday comes from A Description Of Guinea, a travel guide written for Dutch businessmen by Pieter de Marees in 1602. Marees quoted many travelers to West Africa, notably one D.R. (Dierick Ruyters?), who was impressed by the size of Benin City:

"[The city is] very great when you go into it [for] you enter a great broad street, not paved, which seems to be seven or eight times broader than the Warmoes street in Amsterdam; it goes straight in and never bends." Ruyters went on to report that his lodgings were "at least a quarter of an hour's going from the gate, and yet I could still not see to the end of the street." And the side streets branching from the main one looked just as long: "You cannot see to the end of them because of their great length."

Sixty years later, another Dutch visitor, Olfert Dapper, wrote that the king's palace was a complex of buildings and courtyards that "occupies as much space as the town of Haarlem and is enclosed within walls. There are numerous apartments for the Prince's ministers, and fine galleries most of which are as big as those on the Exchange at Amsterdam.

A History of Africa, Chapter 6


Quote:

Amazing Benin

In effect, Europeans there found an Empire with a complex administrative system. The king, the Oba, exercised a great religious power and also political...

Lite Strabo: Amazing Benin
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Old 09-07-2012, 03:47 PM
 
Location: Metairie, La.
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These European traders' travel accounts are indeed very interesting, especially the ones written before the African slave trade became the sole reason for European interest in Africa.

There are several Portuguese and Spanish accounts, sorry their names escape me now (but I'll look it up), that document dynamic societies replete with amazing artistic expression. Moreover, these earlier accounts are usually devoid of race indicators. They may have noted the "tawny" skin of the Africans, but their "tawny" skin didn't determine their nature as was the case with later travel accounts.

I'll look for those names.
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Old 09-07-2012, 05:52 PM
 
Location: Metairie, La.
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So here's a list of explorers, adventurers, etc. from Europe who traveled to Africa and later wrote about what they found there. Really interesting stuff. Now this is just a list. Interested in reading their accounts?

If anyone is, I bet you can get a copy of their writings via interlibrary loan from your local library--if anyone actually reads anymore.

Their depictions of Africa are rather fair--and one thing that attracted them to the continent in the first place was the stories told about wealthy, gold-stocked, empires like Songhay, etc.
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Old 09-08-2012, 12:59 AM
 
7,029 posts, read 9,797,016 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DiogenesofJackson View Post
These European traders' travel accounts are indeed very interesting, especially the ones written before the African slave trade became the sole reason for European interest in Africa.
I have a book called African Glory by J.C deGRAFT-Johnson. In the section on the Kongo empire it highlights the accounts of a Portuguese named Duarte Lopez who spent about 12 years living in th Kongo starting around 1578. Duarte Lopez's account is worth checking out for anyone interested in the Kongo empire which was located where present day Angola is.
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Old 09-08-2012, 05:41 PM
 
Location: Metairie, La.
1,156 posts, read 1,650,291 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DiogenesofJackson View Post
So here's a list of explorers, adventurers, etc. from Europe who traveled to Africa and later wrote about what they found there. Really interesting stuff. Now this is just a list. Interested in reading their accounts?

If anyone is, I bet you can get a copy of their writings via interlibrary loan from your local library--if anyone actually reads anymore.

Their depictions of Africa are rather fair--and one thing that attracted them to the continent in the first place was the stories told about wealthy, gold-stocked, empires like Songhay, etc.
Whoops! forgot to post the link!

Portuguese Explorers, Navigators and Conquistadores
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Old 09-08-2012, 11:12 PM
 
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Before it's destruction the "Wall of Benin" was listed in the Genus Book of World Records as the largest man made structure on Earth.
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Old 09-09-2012, 10:31 AM
 
219 posts, read 782,490 times
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Here's a more recent documentary on Benin:


Benin Plaques - Lost Kingdoms of Africa - West Africa - BBC 4 - YouTube
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