As we wrap up Black History Month, we remember those who have come before us and laid the foundation for our progress. From Harriet Tubman to Malcolm X, African American history is diverse, touching on every imaginable aspect of our present society. But let us not forget our roots, before we were brought to a colonized America. Before Blacks were taken from mother Africa, we were kings and queens, defending our people, introducing the world to elaborate philosophies, inventing conveniences, building grand edifices, creating monumental strategies, and setting the standards for the rest of the world.
Our history does not begin with America, instead it begins with the ancient civilizations and new century kingdoms ruled by powerful men and women from all areas of the African continent. Africans created the climate for world business, intelligent warfare, and exploration. The world has Africa to thank for her thousands of contributions.
Queen Makeda of Sheba ruled an empire that stretched from Ethiopia, northern Egypt, parts of Arabia, Syria, Armenia, India, and the region between the Mediterranean and Erythraean Sea. Her kingdom and power was even greater than Israel’s king at the time Solomon.
Makeda became the queen of Sheba after her dying father appointed her to be ruler in 1005 B.C. She was a smart businesswoman who established a lucrative trade network. She utilized the land and sea to build her business empire and was known worldwide.
She was also known for her accomplishments as a builder. The capitol of her empire was built at Mount Makeda, where early Ethiopian Christians met. When her tomb was excavated, 22 obelisks and the ruins of a great temple were found.
The queen is most famous for her love affair with King Solomon. Their relationship began as a business transaction. Solomon respected the queen. He built a private domicile made of crystal from floor to ceiling and set up a throne alongside his own for the Queen of Sheba. He adorned her with gifts, feasts, and hospitality.
Their love affair led to the birth of their son Menelik, who became the first king of the Solomonid lineage of Ethiopian kings. Makeda turned her vast empire over to her son, but remained his advisor until her death in 955 B.C.
Queen Nzingha of Angola was a fierce warrior who stood by her country from birth to death. Cunning, strong, yet feminine, Nzinga outsmarted the Portuguese, kept her people free, and defended her country for 43 years.
She was born in 1583 and belonged to an ethnic group called the Jagas, a proud militant people. During the time of her rule, the Portuguese were moving their slave trade campaign south toward Congo. Angola was their final destination.
To end the hostilities between the Africans and the invadors, the Portuguese governor Joao Corria de Sousa met Nzinga in Luanda. Historians say the governor had but one chair removed from the room. When her majesty arrived, she noticed the only chair in the room belonged to the governor. Immediately she commanded one of her servants to fall on her hands and knees and act as the queen’s seat, where she conducted the remainder of the meeting.
At that junction, she set the tone for her resilient campaign against foreign rule.
Nzinga was a visionary ruler, envisioning a country free from colonial influences. Through inspiring political and patriotic messages, her subjects across the land joined forces in armed battles against the Portuguese, who eventually second-guessed their advancements in Africa.
The warrior queen died in 1663, after spending most of her adult life successfully keeping her people politically and religiously liberated.
King Mansa Abubakari II of Mali crossed the Atlantic Ocean around 1311 in a quest to quench his childhood desire to explore the ocean. Always fascinated by the water’s mysteries and the stories of the ends of the earth, Abubakari II made his interest known through the land.
Ivan Van Sertima, author of “The African presence in Ancient America: They Came Before Columbus,” reconstructed the events that led to the king’s adventure to the other side of the world, by compiling historical Arabic documents and oral traditions of the Mali griots. According to the recreated story, along with the king’s captivation of the ocean, he was bored with the humdrum life and normal expeditions. His kingdom was the largest in the world. The king desired something new. So it was time for him to set on a journey to tackle the great, mysterious giant called the sea.
The king built a fleet of ships and sent them on a mission to explore the Atlantic Ocean. Two hundred ships of men, food and gold to last two years ventured out, but only one returned. The captain of the ship came to the king saying, “Sultan, we sailed for a long while until we came to what seemed to be a river with a strong current flowing in the open sea. My ship was last. The others sailed on, but as they came to that place they were pulled out to the sea and disappeared.”
The king’s desires were not quenched. Instead of giving up, he embarked on a greater venture, this time he would go along. This time, he took 2,000 ships of food, supplies, and men. He never returned to Mali and his brother Kankan Musa took over the empire.
Historians say Abubakari II landed on the coast of Brazil in a place called Recife. His journey was recorded in the books of history across Africa. There is evidence that says Africans traded with Columbus in the Americas. Gold and other historical artifacts verify the king’s presence in the Americas. The end of Abubakari II’s life is unknown, except the oral histories of his legend that continue to circulate.