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Open letter to ‘60 Minutes’ on its Africa reporting

Dear Jeff Fager, Executive Producer of CBS 60 Minutes,

We, the undersigned, are writing to express our grave concern about the frequent and recurring misrepresentation of the African continent by 60 Minutes.

In a series of recent segments from the continent, 60 Minutes has managed, quite extraordinarily, to render people of black African ancestry voiceless and all but invisible.

Two of these segments were remarkably similar in their basic subject matter, featuring white people who have made it their mission to rescue African wildlife. In one case these were lions, and in another, apes. People of black African descent make no substantial appearance in either of these reports, and no sense whatsoever is given of the countries visited, South Africa and Gabon.

The third notable recent segment was a visit by your correspondent Lara Logan to Liberia to cover the Ebola epidemic in that country. In that broadcast, Africans were reduced to the role of silent victims. They constituted what might be called a scenery of misery: people whose thoughts, experiences and actions were treated as if totally without interest. Liberians were shown within easy speaking range of Logan, including some Liberians whom she spoke about, and yet not a single Liberian was quoted in any capacity.

Liberians not only died from Ebola, but many of them contributed bravely to the fight against the disease, including doctors, nurses and other caregivers, some of whom gave their lives in this effort. Despite this, the only people heard from on the air were white foreigners who had come to Liberia to contribute to the fight against the disease.

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Origins Of The Name Africa

"The name 'Africa' comes from the Afar people, who lived (and live), at the southern end of the Red Sea." ~Professor Martin Bernal, author of Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization The Kamites (ancient Egyptians) term, 'Af-Rui-Ka,' meaning “Place of Beginnings.” Canaanites (the Greeks called them Phoenicians) term, 'Afar' means, 'Dust.' The Canaanites also used the term, 'Afryqah' which denoted a 'Colony,' referring to, Carthage (in Africa), the new city, being a colony of the Canaanites. An Arabic term, 'Ifriqiya,' is often assumed to come from the Roman, though some argue that the Latin term came from the Arabic. Afar: Afar is the name that people of the Northeast use themselves.
In the Amhara language they are called Adal; Arabs call them Danakil (Dankali); Oromo refer to them as Adali and neighboring Somali groups use the term Odali. In Tigrayan they are the Teltal. Afar is a more or less homogenous ethnic group. There are many Afar groups, but all consider themselves Afars. All groups speak the Afar language known as Afar-Af, except for the Irob group of the North, who speak Saho. Other groups are the Ankala, the Adhali and the Able (near Rarahita), the Uluhto, Ayrolasso, and Asabbakari, the Modhito (near Awsa), the Dammohoyta, and the Seka noblemen.
Other sources: Encyclopedia of the African Diaspora: Origins, Experiences, and Culture 3-volume set (pages 12-13), by Carole Elizabeth Boyce Davies Outlines of lectures on ancient history (originally published in 1850), by Charles John Abraham
Publius Cornelius Scipio (at birth), was later called, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus I, was a Roman general and and statesman of the Roman Republic. His father's name was, Publius Cornelius Scipio. One of his children's name was, Cornelia Scipionis Africana. He was best known for defeating Hannibal at the final battle of the Second Punic War at Zama, a feat that earned him the agnomen 'Africanus,' the nickname "the Roman Hannibal." The term Africanus was indigenous to Africa and was passed down by the Berber people.
Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus I, was also a Roman general and statesman. He was the son of Publius Cornelius Scipio and the older brother of Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus I. The names Africanus and Asiaticus were given in honor of military victories. *The myth is that the term Africa, came from the Romans, however they are only responsible for the spread of the word usage which was applied to the entire land mass. (Pictured: Afar women, during a ceremony, near the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden in Africa.)
Source: Dre Jordan
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15 Things You Did Not Know About the Moors of Spain


1. The Spanish occupation by the Moors began in 711 AD when an African army, under their leader Tariq ibn-Ziyad, crossed the Strait of Gibraltar from northern Africa and invaded the Iberian peninsula ‘Andalus' (Spain under the Visigoths).



2. A European scholar sympathetic to the Spaniards remembered the conquest in this way:

a. [T]he reins of their (Moors) horses were as fire, their faces black as pitch, their eyes shone like burning candles, their horses were swift as leopards and the riders fiercer than a wolf in a sheepfold at night . . . The noble Goths [the German rulers of Spain to whom Roderick belonged] were broken in an hour, quicker than tongue can tell. Oh luckless Spain! [i]

[i] Quoted in Edward Scobie, The Moors and Portugal's Global Expansion, in Golden Age of the Moor, ed Ivan Van Sertima, US, Transaction Publishers, 1992, p.336




3. The Moors, who ruled Spain for 800 years, introduced new scientific techniques to Europe, such as an astrolabe, a device for measuring the position of the stars and planets. Scientific progress in Astronomy, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Geography and Philosophy flourished in Moorish Spain




4. Basil Davidson, one of the most noted historians recognized and declared that there were no lands at that time (the eighth century) "more admired by its neighbours, or more comfortable to live in, than a rich African civilization which took shape in Spain"



5. At its height, Córdova, the heart of Moorish territory in Spain, was the most modern city in Europe. The streets were well-paved, with raised sidewalks for pedestrians. During the night, ten miles of streets were well illuminated by lamps. (This was hundreds of years before there was a paved street in Paris or a street lamp in London.) Cordova had 900 public baths - we are told that a poor Moor would go without bread rather than soap!



6. The Great Mosque of Córdoba (La Mezquita) is still one of the architectural wonders of the world in spite of later Spanish disfigurements. Its low scarlet and gold roof, supported by 1,000 columns of marble, jasper and and porphyry, was lit by thousands of brass and silver lamps which burned perfumed oil.



7. Education was universal in Moorish Spain, available to all, while in Christian Europe ninety-nine percent of the population were illiterate, and even kings could neither read nor write. At that time, Europe had only two universities, the Moors had seventeen great universities! These were located in Almeria, Cordova, Granada, Juen, Malaga, Seville, and Toledo.



8. In the tenth and eleventh centuries, public libraries in Europe were non-existent, while Moorish Spain could boast of more than seventy, of which the one in Cordova housed six hundred thousand manuscripts.



9. Over 4,000 Arabic words and Arabic-derived phrases have been absorbed into the Spanish language. Words beginning with "al," for example, are derived from Arabic. Arabic words such as algebra, alcohol, chemistry, nadir, alkaline, and cipher entered the language. Even words such as checkmate, influenza, typhoon, orange, and cable can be traced back to Arabic origins.



10. The most significant Moorish musician was known as Ziryab (the Blackbird) who arrived in Spain in 822. The Moors introduced earliest versions of several instruments, including the Lute or el oud, the guitar or kithara and the Lyre. Ziryab changed the style of eating by breaking meals into separate courses beginning with soup and ending with desserts.



11. The #Moors introduced paper to Europe and Arabic numerals, which replaced the clumsy Roman system.



12. The Moors introduced many new crops including the orange, lemon, peach, apricot, fig, sugar cane, dates, ginger and pomegranate as well as saffron, sugar cane, cotton, silk and rice which remain some of Spain's main products today.



13. The Moorish rulers lived in sumptuous palaces, while the monarchs of Germany, France, and England dwelt in big barns, with no windows and no chimneys, and with only a hole in the roof for the exit of smoke. One such Moorish palace ‘Alhambra' (literally "the red one") in Granada is one of Spain's architectural masterpieces. Alhambra was the seat of Muslim rulers from the 13th century to the end of the 15th century. The Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site



14. It was through Africa that the new knowledge of China, India, and Arabia reached Europe The #Moors brought the Compass from China into Europe.



15. The Moors ruled and occupied Lisbon (named "Lashbuna" by the Moors) and the rest of the country until well into the twelfth century. They were finally defeated and driven out by the forces of King Alfonso Henriques. The scene of this battle was the Castelo de Sao Jorge or the 'Castle of St. George.'

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