AFRI 2002 Midterm Study Guide
The exam will be in three parts. The first part is essay questions, the second is short answer, and the third is defining terms. Parts 1 and 2 will be drawing from the sheet of questions he gave us, so I'm going to go over the themes present and hopefully lay things out so they make sense. I'm not going to write essay outlines for you, or list specific questions, but this is going to help you to write your own. At the end of each topic I'll leave a note saying in which weeks we talked about it, and if you want further clarification you can look at your notes or the readings for that week. Note that some of these themes might cover multiple questions, and some questions might cover multiple themes.
Africa as Primitive:
Many old European writings condemn pre-colonial Africa as primitive, with no history or religion, no civilisation. We know that's wrong, obviously, since there are plenty of ways to show history (if you want to look at oral and linguistic history, look at week 4). Specifically, Africa had several powerful empires. Ancient Egypt, obviously, was one, as well as ancient trading states in the Swahili coast. The most relevant to this course, though, are the Aksum and Nubian empires.
If you want to learn more check out Who was the first state women gained full suffrage?
The Aksum empire rose up early in the ADs, and became Christian in the 4th century, under King Ezana. It was a trading state, and this was probably the motivation behind Ezana's conversion. They provided things like coffee and ivory to peoples like the Greeks and Phoenecians. Aksum thrived as a trading state until the 7th century, when Islam emerged and spread across the region. Because Aksum was a Christian kingdom, and the rest of the area was quickly becoming Muslim, they could no longer enjoy the massive trading power they had once had. In response to this, Aksum expanded to the interior and became a feudal state, getting their revenue from taxes. Don't forget about the age old question of Which market structure has no competition between firms?
In the 13th century, the Amharic speaking groups took power. They created what is called the Solomonic Dynasty, which lasted from 1270-1974. They told the story, called the Solomonic Myth, in which the Queen of Sheba who visited King Solomon had a child named Menelik. The dynasty claimed descent from this son to legitimise their power.
Don't forget about the age old question of How are president elected?
They created an impermanent court, with the king and capital moving around, in order to maintain the loyalty of the people. the king and his court would stay in one place for three months and then move on, so that his presence could be felt throughout the kingdom. The people who controlled this state spoke either Tigre or Amharic, languages that come from Ge'ez, a Semitic language. In its expansion to the south, they took in other ethnic groups like the Oromo.
In the 16th century, a religious war took place between the Ethiopian Muslims and Christians over control of resources. The war was entirely over resources, but religion was used to justify it and gain support. This war drew the attention of two dominant empires in the world: Portugal and the Ottoman Empire. Portugal sided with the Christians, and the Ottomans sided with the Muslims. Initially, Christian Ethiopia was losing, but they had a better-trained military and eventually succeeded.
In the 1760s, Ethiopian entered into the Era of Princes, known as Zemene Mesafint. The king's power was too weak to mean much outside the capital, Gondar. Princes would often be more loyal to their ethnic group than to the king. This period ended in the 1850s, with the rule of King Tweodors II, who began to modernise Ethiopia when he saw the Egyptian armies. He was succeeded by Yohannes and Menelik.
The Nubian empire, in present-day Sudan, was also a major power--they even ruled Egypt for a short time. They created a large state called Kush by 1000 BC, and ruled over Egypt for 60 years, until the Assyrians pushed them out. Don't forget about the age old question of Which type of network covers a large geographical area?
The Meroe state also existed in Nubia, from the 4th century BC to the 4th century AD, and was a major ironworking state. They had many forests to get trees to smelt the iron and work with it. Another significant part of their state was that they used a lot of elephants in war. Meroe had trade relations up
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in the Red Sea. They were invaded by King Ezana of Aksum in the 5th century, and according to his memoirs they were already a declining power by that time. Three other Christian states rose up in Nubia around that time, getting their religion from the Copts in Egypt, who also had close ties with the Ethiopian church. If you want to learn more check out What is the basic unit for carbohydrate structures?
When Islam began to race across the continent, the Christian kingdoms started to lose their hold, and in 1317 they collapsed. Nubia became Arabised and Islamised. They took the Arab language and writing, and tried to become Arab themselves.
We studied Nubia in week 3. We studied Aksum in weeks 1 and 2. Also, I feel like Zemane Mesafint is going to be in the terms section, so keep that in mind. I could be wrong, but it's pretty important.
The Oromos were a people who lived in southern Ethiopia and expanded throughout the area, now living in Kenya and Ethiopia. They are now the largest ethno-linguistic group in Ethiopia, making up almost a third of the country's population. They began to expand after the religious war between the Christians and Muslims. Don't forget about the age old question of Who is jethro tull?
Wherever there were disruptions, it opened a new door for the Oromo people to move. The Oromos were a pastoral culture, and moved in clans rather than as one cohesive group. This made expansion much easier. Their presence was able to bring a level of stability to the region. The Oromo institutions and beliefs provided a much more accommodating, inclusive system, which is much easier when trying to expand.
In the Christian Ethiopian state, Muslims were called Jabarti. They were allowed to trade, but didn't have many other significant rights. The Oromos were more equal, since they were not really a threat to anyone when they came, especially religiously, so they were given more rights. Basically, they expanded so far so fast because they were moving in small groups of travellers, rather than one major move, they had a very inclusive culture, and they were not a threat to either religious group. Some rulers later felt that Oromos brought destruction and discord with them, and under the feudal state set up later on, they were the poor workers while Semitic-speaking people were the rich landowners.
We studied Oromo expansion in week 2, and Ethiopian landlords and tenants in week 5.
Ethiopia, unique among African kingdoms, managed to withstand a European invasion under their king Menelik, and went into the 20th century as the independent African kingdom. There were many factors that contributed to this, in both his domestic and international actions.
Menelik is heralded as the moderniser of Ethiopia, and just in time. He restructured his military to be more like the European model, and traded with European nations for manufactured goods and arms. He was not the only African leader to do this. Muhammed Ali in Egypt and his successors also heavily modernised their country, and kingdoms farther west traded for arms. However, in the case of Egypt, they accrued too much debt to European nations that he could not afford to pay, and was forced to declare bankruptcy. Because of this, Britain and France stepped in to oversee Egypt's economy, and the nation lost its independence.
Ethiopia, however, had a pretty good relationship with Europe, given the circumstances. Menelik was trading with France through Djibouti, creating a railroad from there to Addis Ababa, and he also had - trade relations with the British. It also helped their relationships that Ethiopia was a Christian state (specifically Orthodox, which Russia really loved), so Europe did not feel the need to Christianise it. Menelik was able to manipulate influence among the Europeans, and since no European state wanted another to have too much territory, they were willing to work with him as an independent leader.
The trading helped Menelik amass a huge amount of arms, and when Italy invaded he was able to push them back in a humiliating defeat. This display of power convinced the rest of Europe to let them be independent for a while.
Internally, Menelik also took a few leaves out of Europe's book. Ethiopia went though a period of rapid expansion under his rule, and when he saw Europeans taking up land all over the place he decided he wanted in on it. Menelik conquered many nearby areas, growing Ethiopia to fill its modern borders, and
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wanted in on it. Menelik conquered many nearby areas, growing Ethiopia to fill its modern borders, and sent settlers down from the northern regions to take care of it. These settlers would have been Amharic and Tigre speakers, Semitic languages spoken by the more powerful ethnic groups. They would act as landlords, taking the land from the people who lived there, and these people would work for them.
The Ethiopian colonisation of nearby areas created a core power base, and a periphery of poor people, working for the smaller core. This is just like Eurpean colonialism. In a way, you could say that Ethiopia resisted European domination by becoming like a European nation itself. Menelik instituted a feudal system, and was very interested in modernising the army and expanding his borders. Ethiopia was even accepted into the League of Nations after the First World War, although that's another story and it didn't end very well.
We studied Menelik in weeks 2 and 3.
Fathers of African Modernisation:
There are three leaders who are seen as the forebears of nationalism in their respective nations. Muhammed Abdille Hassan in Somalia, Tewodors II of Ethiopia, and Muhmmed Ahmed in Sudan.
Muhammed Abdille Hassan was known as the Sayyid, and fought against European imperialism in Somalia. Starting in 1899, he established a school in British Somaliland, where he spoke out against colonialism and Christianity, and he gained a large following. The British allied with the Ethiopians to remove him, but even though they attacked him many times, they never managed to kill or defeat him. He died in the late 1920s, of pneumonia.
Tewodors II, king of Ethiopia, ended the Era of Princes. He fought against the Egyptian army in 1855, and saw the efficient ways it operated, imitating the European system. He decided that he would do the same, which began Ethiopia's track toward European-like tendencies, and grew powerful enough to unite the land. He attempted to make new industry and replace old regional warlords, who were still used to ruling on their own, and he confiscated church-owned land for use by the state. He later jailed a British councillor, and died before Britain could reach them. His death led to a conflict of succession by two potential kings, an old man named Yohannes and a young man named Menelik. The two agreed that since Yohannes was so much older, he could rule and when he died Menelik would take over.
Muhammed Ahmed, was a leader in present-day Sudan who criticised the Turkish-Egyptian rule over Sudan, naming himself Mahdi in a movement to overthrow imperialism and reinstitute local control. He created the Mahdi state in 1855 and tried to push them out. In doing this, he killed the British general Charles Gordon. He died within five years of establishing his government, but the British were not going to let the death of their general lie. They invaded the Mahdi state in 1898, a battle that resulted in 11,000 Sudanese dead and about 84 British dead. They were incorporated into the colony of Egypt and Sudan.
We studied Tewodors II in week 2, Muhammed Abdille Hassan in week 4, and Muhammed Ahmed in week 3.
Haile Selassie's modernisation of Ethiopia:
Haile Selassie, last king of Ethiopia, was considered a modernising force, but the extent to which he was actually trying to modernise it is up for debate. He was not interested in modernising toward a democracy, and his policies were very interested in keeping traditional power structures intact. However, he did make a move from military control of the state to bureaucratic control in the 1930s. He passed laws stopping soldiers from abusing peasants, but this also made it so that power was based not on achievement but solely inheritance, destroying any chance for social mobility. Education systems began to emerge in Ethiopia, but they were centred around privilege, and for the most part only nobility attended.
Under his rule, the Ethiopian feudalism remained in effect, with the nobles exploiting the workers heavily. This created a lot of resentment, which was later exploited during Mussolini's invasion. Jilted ethnic groups like the Oromos and Somalis were recruited by the Italian army, and played a major role in taking over.
After the Second World War, Haile Selassie tried to bring his fragmented empire back together, and instituted aggressive policies to try to keep his power. He was heavily criticised by educated elite,
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instituted aggressive policies to try to keep his power. He was heavily criticised by educated elite, especially those who had studied in Europe, and had seen that other states were becoming free. He did modernise Ethiopia to an extent, but only in certain ways.
Ethiopia experienced intermittent peasant revolts under Haile Selassie, as the oppressed workers were becoming increasingly dissatisfied with his rule. He experienced several attempted military coups before he was finally ousted in 1975 by Mengistu Haile Marian.
We studied Haile Selassie's Ethiopia in weeks 5 and 6.
Italian Colonisation of Ethiopia:
We've already talked about some of the buildup to Italy's colonisation of Ethiopia in the 1930s, or at least the historical context. Italy had tried to invade Ethiopia several decades earlier, and Menelik had driven them back. In the context of the 1930s, Ethiopia and Italy were in a border dispute over the boundary between Ethiopia and Italian Somalia. Italy claimed that certain areas under Ethiopian rule belonged to it, and moved into those areas. They kept encroaching, and eventually began to invade and colonise, saying that they were helping the backwards people by giving them order and progress.
Haile Selassie came to the League of Nations, of which he was a part, to get help against the Italian invasion. Italy had gotten so few colonies, and it and Germany had been making noises about being snubbed by the Treaty of Versailles for some time, so the rest of Europe decided to let Italy take over, in the hopes that they would stop there. They didn't, which eventually let to World War Two, which Africans fought in because they were made to.
We covered the Italian colonisation in weeks 5 and 6.
The Cold War:
During the Cold War, the world was divided between America and the Soviet Union. Newly independent states had to ally themselves with one or the other in order to survive, and allying with one meant making enemies of the other. The two powers would often intervene in conflicts, exacerbating them into major wars, such as the war between Ethiopia and Somalia, with American soldiers supporting one side and Russian soldiers supporting the other. The Americans were helping the Ethiopians, but then Ethiopia underwent a Marxist coup and became a Soviet ally, and the Americans and Soviets switched sides in the war. Many African states were vulnerable to Marxist or socialist coups.
We covered some of these coups in weeks 5 and 6.
Issues faced by Somali people:
The Somali people were divided into four major parts. Ethiopia and French, British and Italian Somaliland. Under Ethiopian rule, they were poor workers under the landowners, and under European administrations, they were treated as lesser beings. When the state of Somalia was formed, it was attempting to bring all these fractured areas together, and eventually faced a Marxist revolution. The state itself has since fallen apart.
We covered Somalia in week 4, and a little bit in week 6.
Colonial roots of post-independence conflict:
Colonial rule left a lot of problems behind to answer for, and a lot of those problems caused more conflict. First off, they didn't really care about the people when they made the borders. For instance, Britain gave Eritrea to Ethiopia, because Ethiopia was Christian and Eritrea was Muslim, and they didn't want Muslims controlling the Red Sea. This led to a war, and Eritrea took up arms to take their own independence. A similar thing happened with Sudan. Because South Sudan was already governed differently, Britain could have given them independence separately from Sudan, but instead they lumped it all together. The various governments in place after that didn't account for the South, which led to civil war eventually.
Another major problem African nations faced after independence was military coups. When European nations pulled out, they instituted democracy into the new nations, but democracy is the kind of thing
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nations pulled out, they instituted democracy into the new nations, but democracy is the kind of thing that takes a long time to grow and they had been ruling these colonies as military dictators. African presidents were elected on hopeful promises, and when they failed to come through on these hopes, they were often swiftly replaced by the military, and the people applauded this. Militaries were seen as bringing stability, although military dictatorships get dark and oppressive. Many of these claimed socialism or Marxism, and allied with the East.
Military dictatorships were huge. Sudan had one in 1958, and by the 1970s, most African states (the majority of which had gained independence in the 60s) were military dictatorships. Under colonial rule, militaries had huge amounts of power but when they were setting up the new governments, they were often left out of the process because it was supposed to be a civilian government. When the optimism faded and leaders started failing to meet their goals, everyone wanted the military to take over, and they usually did, because democracy obviously wasn't working. With their experience in WWI and WWII, the military had gained considerable influence and prestige already, and they were an already-present source of order for the people.
Military rules are generally undemocratic and oppressive. Some of them allied with the Soviet Union and some did not, but in general they did not listen to the concerns of the people. In cases such as Sudan, this only served to make certain things worse, like the grievances of the South. The militaries were not intended to be state leaders, and knew nothing of ruling a nation.
We covered the prevalence of military coups in week 6.
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