Posts Tagged ‘black’

“Africa the Dark Continent According to Foreigners,” by Jonathan Musere

May 24, 2016

“Africa the Dark Continent According to Foreigners,” by┬áJonathan Musere
Though the phrase, concept, or application “Dark Continent” has existed for at least four centuries, increasingly over time it came to be more significantly bestowed on Africa, more prevalently on “black” or sub-Saharan Africa. Over the recent past centuries, the region was increasingly inundated by foreign prospectors, adventurers, explorers, missionaries, biologists, geographers, and others.

Africa and Africans were as mysterious and strange to much of the rest of the world, just as the foreigners and their ways were mysterious to the Africans. The foreign presence in Africa accelerated during the Slave Trade and the Scramble for Africa.
Europeans, starting from the coast of west Africa, gradually ventured deeper and deeper into the interior of the continent. Many of them wrote down what they perceived and what their opinions were regarding the culture, religion, appearance, habitations, community, modes of living and survival, and other characteristics of the Africans and their environment. Africans were compared and contrasted to Europeans, to other Africans, and to other people. Some of these accounts were debasing, exaggerations, fabrications, illogical, and without merit. Some of the accounts were corroborative and displayed commonalities among black Africans. Veneration of and sacrifices to ancestors, superstitiousness, as well as operation of witchcraft and blood rituals were common. Women prevalently carried out the domestic work, men were warriors and hunters, and polygamy was widespread.
The renowned foreign chroniclers of Africa included, among many others, David Livingstone, Mungo Park, Hugh Clapperton, Robert Moffat, Henry M. Stanley, Samuel W. Baker, and Paul B. Du Chaillu. The extracts in this book offer a mosaic of the Africa as the Dark Continent in their eyes and descriptions. The writings on Africa and Africans sometimes took a positive, unbiased or neutral tone; they were not always negative.



“Race and Ethnic Relations: American and Global Perspectives” by Martin N. Marger–Book Review

May 11, 2011

This book is mostly geared to the college sociology student and the instructor, and starts with chapters on sociological theories on race and ethnicity. Marger thereafter goes on to treat major factors and histories of the major racial groups in the United states (White Ethnic Americans, native Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, African Americans and Jewish Americans).

Marger comes across as a dedicated and enthusiastic scholar, he balances the prejudices, misconceptions, projections of the races with their histories in the United States. Whites have differential histories, as Irish, Germans, Russians, British, etc. He breaks down their entrance into the United states, the prejudices they have faced, their incomes and power relative to other whites and to other races, how they view themselves. Marger is strong on portraying that the United States has largely been dominated by WASP’s (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) though the dynamic has largely changed over the past few decades with the overwhelming influxes of immigrants and access to power.

It is amazing how Marger refers to countless hundreds of sources! The bibliography is very extensive. In the third part of the book, Marger examines race, ethnicity, socio-historically by examining the significant examples of South Africa (apartheid and majority rule, etc.), then Brazil, then Canada (notably the Quebec-French issue). The very last chapter (16) gets into salient examples of conflict and change–the notable Rwandan genocide, resurgencies of nationalism, breaking up of Yugoslavia, the Iraq conflict, and the issue of Northern Ireland. The magnitude of information packed in this 600-page book is unimaginable. The world is presented as one of stereotypes, of discrimination, of assimilation; race and ethnic relationships are fluid and change everyday.

How Arab-Americans, Hispanics, Jews, etc., are portrayed and treated is all dealt with in this book. Marger walks you through easily readable details of the socio-histories, establishments, encounters, challenges, and privileges of the social groups in the United States and other notable regions of the world. This book is bound to be an enduring one, and should be upheld not only by the academic student and instructor, but by anyone who wants to walk through comprehensive theories and sociohistories of peoples all over the world from the past to the present.

The reader attains a commendable grasp of what is happening in the world right now, as related to what had happened in the past! Once you start reading this book, your eyes will become opened to aspects you had never thought about, and that you had only heard of, naively. This is an exciting volume on global perspectives and reality, one that is hard to put down after you start reading it. This is bound to be an enduring text, and Marger likely revises it every couple of years so as for it to be in tune with what is happening today…though he does not deprive us of what happened in the past! The book is worth every penny!

Jonathan Musere