This is the final instalment of our “African History All Year Round” series, where we celebrate historic African leaders each month throughout the year. Africa is rich in diverse history and culture, and it is our goal to explore these and educate Africans living everywhere across the globe.
The impact of African personalities and communities extends far beyond one month, and it is imperative that their legacy is remembered and celebrated all year round. Recognizing African icons and influencers throughout the year offers a more comprehensive understanding of the contributions and influence of African people throughout history, and provides opportunities for education and reflection.
African History October: King Abubakari Keita II
King Abubakari Keita II was the ruler of the Mali Empire in the 14th century. He was born in 1260 and ruled the empire from 1312 until his death. During his reign, King Abubakari Keita II was known for his military conquests, his diplomacy, and his contributions to the arts and sciences. We celebrate him as an African icon because of the impact he had on African history and the history world.
One of the most famous stories about King Abubakari is his quest to find the source of the Nile River. He is said to have gathered a team of experts and set out on a journey to discover the source of the great river. This journey was seen as a testament to King Abubakari’s courage and determination, and it cemented his place as one of the most revered African rulers of his time.
King Abubakari’ was known for his fair and just rule, and for promoting the arts and sciences. He established many schools and universities and encouraged the development of literature, music, and architecture. These efforts helped to establish the Mali Empire as one of the most prosperous and culturally advanced civilizations in Africa.
African History November: Queen Nzinga
Queen Nzinga was a powerful African queen who ruled over the Ndongo and Matamba kingdoms in Angola in the 17th century. Born into the royal family, Nzinga was educated and trained in the ways of leadership from a young age. She rose to prominence after the death of her brother, the king of Ndongo, and was tasked with negotiating a peace treaty with the Portuguese, who had been rapidly expanding their influence in the region. Nzinga proved to be a cunning and capable diplomat, negotiating a favourable agreement that allowed her people to maintain their independence and autonomy.
However, the Portuguese soon reneged on the agreement and began a campaign of violence and enslavement against the Ndongo people. In response, Nzinga formed a powerful army and led her people in a series of successful battles against the Portuguese, effectively freeing her people from colonial rule.
During her reign, in 1657 the Portuguese invited her to sign a treaty that would have allowed them to enslave her people, when she arrived at the court, she was told that there were no seats available for her and she was expected to stand. However, Nzinga refused to be treated with disrespect and instead commanded one of her attendants to bring her a chair, which she then sat upon, making it clear she was a queen and deserving of respect.
The lessons of Nzinga’s life are many, and they offer valuable insights for future generations of African leaders. Her unwavering commitment to her people, her willingness to stand up to the Portuguese, and her determination to preserve her people’s independence and autonomy are all qualities that should be celebrated and emulated. Additionally, her life serves as a powerful reminder of the potential of African women to lead and make a positive impact in their communities.
African History December: Sanité Belair
Sanité Belair was a prominent Haitian political and social activist in the early 20th century. Born in 1873, Belair was a leader of the Haitian independence movement, advocating for the rights of women and workers, and fighting against colonialism and imperialism. Belair’s activism was inspired by the events of the Haitian Revolution, a slave revolt that resulted in Haiti becoming the first independent black nation in 1804. She saw the struggles of the revolution as a model for her own activism and sought to use her platform to continue the fight for freedom and justice in Haiti.
Throughout her life, Belair was known for her courage, tenacity, and commitment to justice. She was a powerful orator and writer, using her words to inspire change and spark a revolution. In addition to her activism, Belair was also an accomplished musician and artist. Her songs and paintings often reflected her political beliefs and her commitment to social justice, and she used her artistic talents to educate and inspire others.
Belair’s legacy has had a lasting impact on Haiti and the wider world. She is remembered as a symbol of courage and hope. One of the lessons that can be taken from Belair’s life is the importance of using one’s talents and skills to fight for social justice. By using her artistic and musical abilities, Belair was able to reach a wide audience and make a real impact in the world.
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