Scholar highlights historical African navigational skills

Paris- France (PANA) -- An African economist has highlighted the contribution of African sailors to modern day navigational scientific knowledge long before Christopher Columbus appeared on the scene to "discover America".
In an interview, the Ivorian economist, Prof.
Nicholas Agbohou, who holds a doctorate in political science, Africans had made scientific advances and contacts with America and other parts of the world long before Columbus.
Agbohou told PANA in Paris that archaeological evidence and other scientific data exists to attest "without ambiguity that Africans navigated on the Atlantic Ocean before Christ and they navigated as far as the Americas and the North Atlantic Sea to Ireland where they settled for a period in the past".
However, he said, a lot of what formed the basis of modern day nautical knowledge was destroyed when slave trade and colonialism were introduced in Africa.
"Thanks to the deliberate falsification of history, the world was made to believe that America was isolated from the rest of the world after the second glacial period and that agriculture and culture in America developed independently until the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492," he said.
Contrary to this view, he explained, navigators from the ancient world (black Africa) sailed to the shores of America as far back as 1455, well before Christopher Columbus.
To bolster his argument, Agbohou produced ancient historical maps and scientific data contained in his 361-page doctoral thesis entitled "The structural cause s of hunger in the World" which he presented at the French University of Rennes in 1992.
He argued that these ancient historical maps showed that the shortest route to the Americas was through the equatorial currents between Cape Verde and the extreme North-eastern part of Brazil and South of the Antilles.
The pre-Christ and pre-Columbus African sailors used their knowledge of the winds and sea currents, such as the Guinea and Canary currents, to traverse the sea from America to Europe and South East Asian nations, where they set up powerful empires in some places, Agbohou said.
Various West African fishing tribes also specialised in the manufacture of powerful boats which they used to navigate through the Indian Ocean to as far as China.
According to Agbohou, Columbus benefited from this African nautical knowledge in his expedition to "discover America".
He quoted extracts of writings by Columbus, in which he acknowledged the limits of the Spanish naval vessels compared with those by black Africans of his time.
Agbohou asserted that scientific data existed to show that Africa had scientific marine knowledge and shipping vessels, which its sailors used to trade with the rest of the world in pre-Columbus period.
The Ivorian political scientist stresses the importance of throwing light on the past in order to demonstrate Africa's contribution to present day nautical sciences.
Slave trade and colonialism "interrupted and destroyed" the natural progression of Africa's overall socio-economic development as conceive d by the continents peoples, argues the Ivorian economist.
"It is by highlighting Africa's glorious past that the continents peoples could regain confidence in themselves and combat the negative stereotyped ideas, which sought to inculcate in the African mind since the 15th century through falsified western historical theories, that Africans had no culture and had never contributed to human progress before the arrival of the Europeans on the continent".
He urged Africans to initiate studies on the continent's glorious past so as to conceptualise the best development model for the continent's economic development.
Agbohou denounced suggestions that Africans should forget the past, saying this would be wrong, as the past holds solutions to the continent's efforts to re-position itself for the challenges of the 21st century.
Africans must realise the need to revive the inventive and creative prowess of their forefathers and the contribution these made to modern civilisation before the advent of slave trade and colonialism.
The economist exhorts Africans to re-visit the past in order to draw the necessary confidence and courage to re-awaken their inventive and creative energy.
According to Agbohou, by delving into the past, Africans would realise that before slave trade and colonialism, their forefathers were among the first artisans of global civilisation.
Besides the nautical sciences, Africa contributed to modern day global progress in various other domains, he said, adding that the continent "owes nothing to present day multilateral institutions".
The Ivorian concluded by saying that the cancellation of the crippling African debt burden "is a moral and historical imperative.
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28 Agosto 2001 21:40:00




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