MNM presents a powerful documentary about the history and Islamic legacy of West Africa. "The Legend of Timbuktu" tells about the empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai, who became the first Sub Saharan people to accept Islam, early as 850 A.D..
From great Muslim African leaders like Mansa Musa, who raised Timbuktu to new heights, to Abubakari II, who crossed the Atlantic Ocean to America nearly 200 years before Cristopher Columbus - this critically acclaimed documentary explores African history like never before.
The Dogon are an ethnic group living in the central plateau region of Mali, south of the Niger bend near the city of Bandiagara in the Mopti region.Certain researchers investigating the Dogon have reported that they seem to possess advanced astronomical knowledge, the nature and source of which has subsequently become embroiled in controversy. From 1931 to 1956 the French anthropologist Marcel Griaule studied the Dogon. This included field missions ranging from several days to two months in 1931, 1935, 1937 and 1938] and then annually from 1946 until 1956. In late 1946 Griaule spent a consecutive thirty-three days in conversations with the Dogon wiseman Ogotemmêli, the source of much of Griaule and Dieterlen's future publications. They reported that the Dogon believe that the brightest star in the sky, Sirius (sigi tolo or 'star of the Sigui', has two companion stars, pō tolo (the Digitaria star), and ęmmę ya tolo, (the female Sorghum star), respectively the first and second companions of Sirius A. Sirius, in the Dogon system, formed one of the foci for the orbit of a tiny star, the companionate Digitaria star. When Digitaria is closest to Sirius, that star brightens: when it is farthest from Sirius, it gives off a twinkling effect that suggests to the observer several stars. The orbit cycle takes 60 years.They also claimed that the Dogon appeared to know of the rings of Saturn, and the moons of Jupiter.
The mystery of the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel has fascinated people through the ages. Explorers claim to have discovered evidence of the "lost tribes" all over the world, from Australia to Siberia, but few if any such claims have been backed up by solid evidence. But now a provocative possibility about the whereabouts of one of the tribes has emerged--and it's 4,000 miles from Israel--in Southern Africa. This documentary retraces the amazing journey that the Lemba people claim they made centuries ago. It stretches from the heart of modern South Africa to the ancient stone cities of Zimbabwe...and then onto the shores of the Mediterranean and the city of Jerusalem. And the evidence for this journey is more than anecdotal.This documentary discovers, recent DNA studies point to the Lemba's true origin in the Middle East.
Some Jewish communities in Africa are among the oldest in the world, dating back more than 2700 years. African Jews have ethnic and religious diversity and richness. African Jewish communities include:
Sephardi Jews and Mizraḥi Jews living in North Africa, including Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Sudan and Egypt. Some were established early in the Diaspora; others after the expulsion from Iberia in the late 15th century. Since the early and middle decades of the twentieth century, the vast majority of them have emigrated, chiefly to Israel and France, with substantial numbers also emigrating to Argentina, Brazil, Canada and the US. Small but active communities remain in Morocco and Tunisia.
The South African Jews, who are mostly Ashkenazi Jews descended from pre-and post-Holocaust immigrant Lithuanian Jews.
Scattered African groups who have not maintained contact with the wider Jewish community from ancient times, but who assert descent from ancient Israel or other connections to Judaism. These include:
Groups who observe Jewish rituals, or rituals bearing recognizable resemblance to Judaism. Although there are a number of such groups, the majority of world Jewry recognize only the Beta Israel of Ethiopia as historically Jewish.
Groups such as the Lemba, many of whom practice Christianity but have preserved some rituals and customs believed to be Jewish in origin. This group has also been found to have genetic traits in common with other Jewish groups, bolstering their claims to ancient Jewish ancestry. Latest DNA testing on the Lemba by the South African Medical Journal (SAMJ) tested both South African Ashkenazi Jews and Lemba for the extended Cohen Model Haplogroup (CMH). Although the 24 individuals, (10 Lemba,14 SA Jews) were identified as having the original Cohen Model Haplogroup, only one SA Jew harboured the extended CMH. This study does not support earlier claims of their Jewish genetic heritage.
Although not all African Jews are religious, some of their practices are Orthodox.
The most ancient communities of African Jews known to the Western world are the Ethiopian, Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews of North Africa and Middle Africa.
Largely unknown in the West until quite recently are communities of the African Jews such as the Lemba (located in present-day Malawi, Zimbabwe, and northern South Africa). Some among the Igbo of Nigeria, the Annang/Efik/Ibibio of Akwa Ibom State and Cross River State of Nigeria, Cameroon, and Equatorial Guinea) claim descent from East Africa and Jews in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and Egypt, which were trading partners from ancient times.
In the seventh century, many Spanish Jews fled persecution under the Visigoths to North Africa, where they made their homes in the Byzantine-dominated cities along the Mediterranean coast. Others arrived after the expulsion from Iberia. Remnants of longstanding Jewish communities remain in Morocco, Tunisia and the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla. There is a much-diminished but still vibrant community on the island of Djerba in Tunisia. Many Jews from North Africa emigrated to North America in the early 20th century. Since 1948 and the civil war to establish Israel, which aroused hostility in Muslim lands, most other North African Jews emigrated. They went to Israel, France and Spain.
Of the seventh century immigrants, some moved inland and proselytized among the Berber tribes. A number of tribes, including the Jarawa, Uled Jari, and some tribes of the Daggatun people, may have converted to Judaism. Ibn Khaldun reported that Kahina, a female Berber warlord who led the resistance against the Arab invaders of North Africa in the 680s and 690s, was a Jew of the Jarawa tribe. With the defeat of the Berber resistance, none of the Jewish communities was initially forced to convert to Islam.
In 1975, the Israeli religious authorities and government recognized the Beta Israel of Ethiopia as legally Jewish. Hundreds of persons who wanted to emigrate to Israel were air-lifted under the leadership of Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Significant immigration to Israel continues into the 21st century.
Short documentary on Mali
The Mali Empire began when a small Malinke kingdom within the Ghana Empire grew ever more powerful.
Mali began as a small Malinke kingdom around the upper areas of the Niger River. It became an important empire after 1235 when Sundjata organized Malinke resistance against a branch of the southern Soninke, who made up the center of the older kingdom of Ghana. The empire developed around its capital of Niani, the city of Sundjata's birth in the southern savannah country of the upper Niger valley near the gold fields of Bure. Unlike the people of the older kingdom of Ghana, who had only camels, horses, and donkeys for transport, the people of Mali also used the river Niger. By river, they could transport bulk goods and larger loads much more easily than by land. Living on the fertile lands near the Niger, people suffered less from drought than those living in the drier regions further north. Food crops were grown on the level areas by the river, not only for local people but for those living in cities farther north on the Niger River and in oasis towns along the trade routes across the desert. Thus the Niger River enabled the kingdom of Mali to develop a far more stable economy than Ghana had enjoyed and contributed to the rise of the Mali empire.
Sundjata built up a vast empire that stretched eventually from the Atlantic coast south of the Senegal River to Gao on the east of the middle Niger bend (see the map of Mali). It extended from the fringes of the forest in the southwest through the savannah (grassland) country of the Malinke to the Sahel and southern Saharan "ports" of Walata and Tadmekka. It included the gold fields of Bumbuk and Bure and the great cities of Timbuktu, Djenne, and Gao on the Niger River and extended to the salt mines of Taghaza. Many different peoples were thus brought in to what became a federation of states, dominated by Sundjata and the Malinke people. Under Sundjata's leadership, Mali became a relatively rich farming area.
The Mali empire was based on outlying areas--even small kingdoms--pledging allegiance to Mali and giving annual tribute in the form of rice, millet, lances, and arrows. Slaves were used to clear new farmlands where beans, rice, sorghum, millet, papaya, gourds, cotton, and peanuts were planted. Cattle, sheep, goats, and poultry were bred.
The Mali Empire grew and prospered by monopolizing the gold trade and developing the agricultural resources along the Niger River.
Like Ghana, Mali prospered from the taxes it collected on trade in the empire. All goods passing in, out of, and through the empire were heavily taxed. All gold nuggets belonged to the king, but gold dust could be traded. Gold was even used at times as a form of currency, as also were salt and cotton cloth. Later, cowrie shells from the Indian Ocean were introduced and used widely as currency in the internal trade of the western Sudan.
The Mali Empire's most famous king was Mansa Musa.
Mali prospered only as long as there was strong leadership. Sundjata established himself as a great religious and secular leader, claiming the greatest and most direct link with the spirits of the land and thus the guardian of the ancestors. After Sundjata, most of the rulers of Mali were Muslim, some of whom made the hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). The most famous haji (pilgrim to Mecca) was Mansa Musa, king of Mali and grandson of one of Sundjata's sisters. In 1324, accompanied by some 60,000 people and carrying large quantities of gold, Mansa Musa traveled from Niani along the Niger to Timbuktu and then across the Sahara via the salt mines of Taghaza from oasis to oasis, to reach Cairo. From there he went on to Mecca and Medina.
Mansa Musa was an exceptionally wise and efficient ruler. He divided the empire into provinces, each with its own governor, and towns that were administered by a mochrif or mayor. A huge army kept the peace, putting down rebellions in the smaller kingdoms bordering the central part of the empire, and policing the many trade routes. Timbuktu became a center of learning, luxury, and trade, where river people met with the desert nomads, and where scholars and merchants from other parts of Africa, the Middle East, and even Europe came to its universities and bustling markets.
The Mali Empire collapsed when several states, including Songhai, proclaimed and defended their independence.
The empire of Mali reached in zenith in the fourteenth century but its power and fame depended greatly on the personal power of the ruler. After the death of Mansa Musa and his brother Mansa Sulayman, Timbuktu was raided and burned. Several states revolted and seized their independence, including the Tuareg, Tukulor, and Wolof. The Mossi attacked trading caravans and military garrisons in the south. In the east, the Songhai gathered strength. Mali lasted another 200 years, but its glory days were over. By 1500, it had been reduced to little more than its Malinke heartland. By the seventeenth century, Mali had broken up into a number of small independent chiefdoms.
Watch David Sheen shocking documentary on racism against African in Israel.
This is Part 1 of 4 - Report for the African Refugee Development Center (ARDC) to the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
David Sheen is a reporter and content editor at Haaretz.com.
Originally from Toronto, Canada, Sheen has blogged online since he first moved to Israel in 1999. He has authored award-winning blogs on ecological sustainability and social justice.
Sheen also directed the short film The Red Pill and the feature film First Earth, and was a featured speaker at TEDxJohannesburg in 2010.
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Watch Video Documentary "Queen Victoria's Empire"
This series offers an engaging portrait of the Queen who ruled over one-fifth of the world's population for 64 years, as well as influential figures who shaped British imperialism: Gladstone, Disraeli, Livingstone, Rhodes, and Prince Albert. Personal accounts, re-enactments, and cinematography from imperial outposts recount the dramatic clash of personalities and cultures during Victoria's remarkable reign. Donald Sutherland narrates
The Scramble for Africa
The Suez Canal is threatened by a holy war in the Sudan, and General Charles Gordon, killed by the rebels, becomes an "imperial martyr." Cecil Rhodes prospects diamond deposits in southern Africa, and asserts British control in the region. However, as Victoria celebrates her Diamond Jubilee, the empire is on the verge of its darkest hours. The Boer War leads to devastating losses and a reassessment of British purpose. Finally, in 1901, the death of Queen Victoria marks the end of an extraordinary era.
The Atlantic Ocean near the coast of Western Africa has been one of Russia's fishing grounds for decades. But these fish-rich waters also draw a lot of international competition, which gets fiercer every year. As the number of fish dwindle and local laws get stricter, the fight for a prize catch can often cross the line of being legal.