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Glimpses of History #3: Prehistoric Migration out of Africa

Glimpses of History: Prehistoric Migration out of Africa

The spreading out of modern human populations in Africa 80,000 to 60,000 years ago and their initial exodus out of Africa have been uncertainly linked to two phases of technological and behavioral innovation within the Middle Stone Age of southern Africa.

The genus Homo evolved in Africa a little less than 2.5 million years ago, characterized by increasingly large brains that equipped them better for survival—their predecessors, the australopithecines, became extinct soon thereafter. Mary and Louis Leakey became famous for their discovery of the Homo habilis site in Tanzania’s Olduvai Gorge—a small ape—like biped that was skilled with stone tools (hence the name).

'Africa History Migrations' by Akan Takruri (ISBN 1976711592) These include surface and buried soils, windborne dispersal, human motion, excavation techniques and toolkits, and field attire has on archaeological sample quality. The announcement of Homo habilis was a defining moment in palaeoanthropology. It shifted the pursuit for the first humans from Asia to Africa and began a debate that persists to this day. Even with all the fossil evidence and analytical techniques from the past 50 years, a convincing hypothesis for the origin of Homo remains elusive.

Later hominids were larger, stronger and more anthropomorphic. The fossil record shows that hominids spread from Africa to Europe and Asia in multiple waves beginning about 2 million years ago (exactly how many species were involved, and how recently some survived, remains uncertain). They appear to have developed vocalization, hunter-gatherer social groups and the use of fire over the next million years.

The current scientific consensus, supported by DNA studies, is that modern humans arose in Africa 200,000 years ago, before spreading out, replacing and interbreeding with other hominids.

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Nelson Mandela: A Brief Timeline

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela is celebrated around the world for his personal struggle against apartheid, a system devised by the National Party controlled by the minority white in South Africa to oppress the black majority. He led the decades-long struggle to replace the apartheid regime with a multi-racial democracy and advocated for reconciliation in spite of being imprisoned for 27 years.

After becoming South Africa’s first black president in 1994, Mandela was the driving force behind the peaceful transition of one of the most racist societies in modern times to a nonviolent and democratic society where acceptance reigns and there were no recriminations. He was one of the world’s most respected political leaders of his time.

  • 1918: Nelson Mandela was born into the Madiba tribal clan, a part of the Thembu people, in a small village in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
  • 1943: Mandela joined the African National Congress.
  • 1956: Nelson Mandela was charged with high treason along with 155 people, including the entire executive of the African National Congress. Their trial started in 1958 and after three years, the courts ruled that there had been no proof that the African National Congress was using violence to overthrow the government. None of the 156 charged with high treason were found guilty.
  • 1962: Mandela was arrested near Howick in KwaZulu-Natal and convicted of incitement and for leaving country without a passport. Mandela is sentenced to five years in prison. Sent to the Robben Island in the middle of 1963.
  • 1964: In the infamous Rivonia Trials, Mandela was charged with sabotage and sentenced to life in prison. In October 1963, ten principal opponents of the apartheid system went on trial for their lives on charges of sabotage. Nelson Mandela made a speech attacking the very court he was appearing in as unlawful and illegitimate. He argued that the laws in racist South Africa were harshly draconian and that disobedience of these laws was defensible.
  • 'Long Walk to Freedom' by Nelson Mandela (ISBN 0030565812) 1990: Nelson Mandela was freed from prison. South Africa began to put an end to strict racial segregation, a process that was completed by the first multi-racial elections in 1994.
  • 1993: Nelson Mandela won the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize with Frederik Willem de Klerk, the last white President of South Africa, “for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa.”
  • 1994: The first multi-racial elections were held in South Africa. Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first black president after more than three centuries of white rule. In his inaugural speech, Mandela declared, “Never, never again will this beautiful land experience the oppression of one by another.”
  • 1999: Nelson Mandela stepped down as leader of South Africa. A June-1999 New York Times editorial wrote, “The five years … have seen a genuine change of political power, widespread respect for the rule of law and none of the political revenge killings that have marked other societies in transition. South Africa has many problems, such as desperate poverty and terrifying crime. But its suffering would have been infinitely greater absent the moral authority and democratic, inclusive spirit that made Mr. Mandela a giant as leader of the liberation movement and as President.”
  • 2001: Nelson Mandela was diagnosed with prostate cancer and received radio therapy for seven weeks. Since retirement, Mandela had maintained an active schedule, frequently traveling abroad and mediating peace efforts in Burundi.
  • 2004: Retired from public life. Mandela had rarely been seen in public since retirement.
  • 2010: Last public appearance in Football World Cup 2010 in South Africa.
  • 2013: Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95 at home in Johannesburg after years of declining health.

Recommended Reading

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The Rushdie Affair

Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses and The Rushdie Affair

The Rushdie Affair, or The Satanic Verses controversy, was the impassioned furious reaction of several Muslims to the publication of The Satanic Verses, a novel by British Indian novelist and essayist Salman Rushdie. The Satanic Verses was first published by Viking Press in the United Kingdom in 1988.

'The Satanic Verses: A Novel' by Salman Rushdie (ISBN 0812976711) Many Muslim authorities decried The Satanic Verses as blasphemous. Its distribution and sale were banned in India, Pakistan, South Africa, and Iran. The ireful reactions became dramatic in early 1989 when Muslims in England burned copies of the novel and protest and demonstrations in Pakistan ended in killings and injuries. On 14-Feb-1989, Iranian religious leader and politician Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa urging Muslims the world over to execute those associated with the novel. The fatwa also placed a death sentence on Salman Rushdie and Viking Press, his publishers, for blasphemy against Islam. The sentence has never been discharged. The fatwa was eventually revoked under the rule of Mohammad Khatami in the late 1990s.

Recommended Reading

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Naguib Mahfouz, the Arab World’s Most Prominent Literary Figure

Naguib Mahfouz, Egyptian Author, the Arab World's Most Prominent Literary Figure

Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006) was an incredibly prolific Egyptian writer who, over course of five decades, wrote over thirty-five novels, five plays, fourteen short-story collections and many articles.

After a degree in philosophy from the University of Cairo, Mahfouz got a job with the civil service. In 1939, he published his first book: a historical novel called Mockery of the Fates. Mahfouz’s first three novels dealt with ancient Egypt, but his later novels were critical of contemporary Egyptian society and portrayed human foibles.

The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz “Al-thul al-hiyyah” or “the Cairo Trilogy”, consisting of “Palace Walk” (1956), “Palace of Desire” (1957) and “Sugar Street” (1957) recounted generational and philosophical conflicts in Cairo life between 1917 and 1944, and established Mahfouz as a leading Arab novelist. Mahfouz’s celebrated work is “Palace Walk” or “Between the Two Palaces” (1956), considered by many the most famous novel in the Arabic language.

In the novel “Children of Gebelawi” or “Children of the Alley” (1959), Mahfouz portrayed feuding brothers who resemble Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed and their power struggles in a traditional Cairo neighborhood. This book portrayed God in an allegorical manner, and metaphorically suggested the failure of religion and the prospective success of science in creating a better life. The book was deemed blasphemy and was formally banned in the entire Arab world with the exception of Lebanon.

Palace Walk or Between the Two Palaces: Naguib Mahfouz's most famous novel in the Arabic language Through his writing career, Mahfouz kept his day job as a civil servant in the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the Foundation for the Support of the Cinema, and the Ministry of Culture. His daily routine included taking a ninety-minute walk around Cairo, and reading the newspaper at the same Cairo cafe each day.

Naguib Mahfouz is known as the “Father of Modern Arabic Literature.” He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1988. He delivered his 1988 Nobel Lecture in Arabic, and he commenced,

I would like you to accept my talk with tolerance. For it comes in a language unknown to many of you. But it is the real winner of the prize. It is, therefore, meant that its melodies should float for the first time into your oasis of culture and civilization. I have great hopes that this will not be the last time either, and that literary writers of my nation will have the pleasure to sit with full merit amongst your international writers who have spread the fragrance of joy and wisdom in this grief-ridden world of ours.

In the late 80s, the disputes over Salman Rushdie’s “The Satanic Verses” again evoked the controversy surrounding Mahfouz’s novel “Children of the Alley” (1959). In 1994, Mahfouz was the target of an assassination attempt by militant Islamists. He survived the assassination attempt but damaged the nerves in his right hand. Mahfouz could not write for more than a few minutes a day and subsequently produced fewer works. He died in 2006 at the age of 94.

Naguib Mahfouz: Written Works

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Inspiring Quotations about Prison from Nelson Mandela from his Autobiography

Nelson Mandela's Prison in Robben Island

In the winter of 1964, Nelson Mandela arrived on Robben Island, off the coast from Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa. It was here in a prison that Mandela would spend eighteen of his twenty-seven years of prison sentence before he would be freed just prior to the fall of apartheid in South Africa.

The racist regime in South Africa cramped Nelson Mandela to a small cell. The ground was his bed. He had a bucket for a toilet and he was forced to do harsh labor in a quarry.

Contact with friends, family, and well-wishers was limited: Mandela was allowed one visitor a year for thirty minutes. He could write and receive one letter every six months.

Despite the trying times, Robben Island became the crucible which transformed him. Out of his intellect, charm, and decorous disobedience, Mandela in due course bent the most atrocious of prison officials to his will, took up to command his jailed comrades and developed into the master of his prison.

Eventually in the late 1980s, the South African President FW de Klerk and the African National Congress (ANC) initiated large-scale political reforms by relaxing apartheid laws and revoking the ban on black rights party. Nelson Mandela was freed on 11-Feb-1990. He emerged from the jail as a mature leader who would fight and win the great political battles that would create a new democratic South Africa.

Inspiring Quotations from Nelson Mandela from his Autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom”

'Long Walk to Freedom' by Nelson Mandela (ISBN 0030565812) Here are seven inspiring quotations from ‘Long Walk to Freedom’, Nelson Mandela‘s autobiography, which was recently made into a biopic with an inspiring performance from British actor, producer, and musician Idris Elba.

  • “In my country we go to prison first and then become President.”
  • “No one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens but its lowest ones.”
  • “Prison itself is a tremendous education in the need for patience and perseverance. It is above all a test of one’s commitment.”
  • “I always knew that someday I would once again feel the grass under my feet and walk in the sunshine as a free man.”
  • “It was during those long and lonely years that my hunger for the freedom of my own people became a hunger for the freedom of all people, white and black. I knew as well as I knew anything that the oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed. A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.”
  • “When I walked out of prison, that was my mission, to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor both. Some say that has now been achieved. But I know that that is not the case. The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.”
  • “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

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16 Inspiring Quotes from Nelson Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom”

Nelson Mandela

'Long Walk to Freedom' by Nelson Mandela (ISBN 0030565812) Nelson Mandela is celebrated around the world for his personal struggle against apartheid, a system devised by the National Party controlled by the minority white in South Africa to oppress the black majority. He led the decades-long struggle to replace the apartheid regime with a multi-racial democracy and advocated for reconciliation in spite of being imprisoned for 27 years.

After becoming South Africa’s first black president in 1994, Mandela was the driving force behind the peaceful transition of one of the most racist societies in modern times to a nonviolent and democratic society where acceptance reigns and there were no recriminations. He was one of the world’s most respected political leaders of his time.

Nelson Mandela shared the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize with Frederik Willem de Klerk, the last white President of South Africa, “for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa.”

Here are sixteen inspiring quotations from ‘Long Walk to Freedom’, autobiography of Nelson Mandela, which was recently made into a biopic with an inspiring performance from British actor, producer, and musician Idris Elba.

  • “When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.”
  • “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
  • “Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farmworkers can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.”
  • “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”
  • “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
  • “A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens but its lowest ones.”
  • “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”
  • 'Long Walk to Freedom' by Nelson Mandela (ISBN 0030565812) “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
  • “You may succeed in delaying, but never in preventing the transition of South Africa to a democracy.”
  • “The authorities liked to say that we received a balanced diet; it was indeed balanced—between the unpalatable and the inedible.”
  • “There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.”
  • “A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.”
  • “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”
  • “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”
  • “Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward.”
  • “There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”
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Exotic East and West Blend in the Fascination that is Morocco

Exotic East and West Blend in the Fascination that is Morocco

A narrow strip in the northwest of the continent of Africa, Morocco has been a source of endless appeal for travelers through time. Perfectly located in the cusp between the west and the east and less touristy and more politically stable than other North African countries, Morocco continues to draw the curious from across the world.

To Westerners and Easterners alike, it ticks all boxes of mysterious travel, from nomadic cultures, desert landscapes, high mountains, remarkable marketplaces, charming accommodations, striking contrasts, dramatic beaches (Morocco is one of the only three countries to border both the Mediterranean and the Atlantic) and outstanding—if unusual—cuisines. If you are in the mood to explore a new way of life, are open to adventure and new experiences and, yes, have a generous budget, Morocco could make for a holiday of a lifetime.

Charming doors of Morocco

Practicalities

  • Weather: Although Morocco is located on the coast, the mountains and the interior of the country have an extreme climate. Therefore, winter is the favored time for travel. The daily temperature in the month of December ranges between a very comfortable 8 deg C and 20 deg C; there may be some rainfall, but it usually does not last long. Take warm clothes for the evenings and nights.
  • Winter is not the peak travel season, which extends from July to September. Though December attracts foreigners, it is still possible to find good bargains. If you shop online judiciously and book ahead, you can still fit in a unforgettable holiday without breaking the bank.
  • Much of the travel literature available about Morocco is geared towards the Western tourist. You may not be interested in the same things as a tourist from the American Midwest or Scandinavia, so make your own must-see or do list and hunt down the best prices. While tourism is widespread and the country is used to tourists, do prioritize safety.
  • Women, especially, would do well to take the same precautions as they do in other countries while travelling on their own: carry a scarf, wear long sleeves, avoid late nights, and do not fall into prolonged conversations with strangers.

Medina, the inner city of Fez

Historic Urbanscapes

Morocco’s cities are the hub of culture and commerce, yet each has a distinctive flavor that is best savored at leisure. If you are a city person, Morocco is the place for you. The region has been occupied since prehistoric times, leading to the formation of organic urban hodgepodges with living histories that date back to the ninth century. Fez, Meknes, Marrakesh, and Rabat are often grouped together as the Imperial Cities of Morocco, since each has been the capital at some point in the country’s history.

  • Fez: The most captivating of the cities of Morocco is undoubtedly Fez, a medieval, three-tiered walled city with what is said to be the world’s largest car-free zone. Though the grandiose mosques are out-of-bounds for non-believers, there’s plenty of stunning architecture to admire around the city, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Medina, the inner city. Skip the Chaouwara Tanneries—one of the top sights in Fez for Westerners—but do not miss the 14th century Medersa Bou Inania, the Merenid Tombs (bonus: the city vista) and the Henna Souk.
  • Meknes, less frenzied than Fez, has palaces, dungeons and the Moulay Ismael Mausoleum, one of the very few holy places in the country where non-Muslims are welcome. Fez has hundreds of merchants peddling jewelry and scarves to curious tourists.
  • Rabat, the current capital, which delicately blends old and new architecture. The prime example is the Tour Hassan and the Mausoleum of Mohammed V.
  • Marrakesh all descriptions fall short of capturing the magic of Marrakesh. Expansive and lively, it is Morocco in a (very large) nutshell. You will probably find yourself returning repeatedly to Djemma El-Fan—the city’s main square and a immense open-air marketplace—but do not overlook the Koutoubia Mosque, the Saadian Tombs, and the Bahia Palace.

Enchanting Street Markets of Morocco

Besides these four urban areas, you could consider visiting Casablanca (yes, the very one that was the backdrop for the Humphrey Bogart-Ingrid Bergman wartime classic movie, which is Morocco’s largest city), Taroudant (a picturesque market town ensconced in red mud walls), Essaouira (a charming seaside town) and Tangier (an old city in the throes of a cultural rejuvenation).

Among the things, you could do to underline the Moroccan experience: Take a lesson in Moroccan cooking, relax in a hamam, shop in a souk, and stay in a riad, a traditional homestead, many of which have now been converted into hotels. Train travel within the country is recommended over flights.

Great Outdoors of Morocco : Camel Caravans

The Great Outdoors

If you, however, want an outdoorsy holiday, Morocco is still a great destination. From skiing to surfing, and from mountaineering to desert camping, adventure tour operators can fix them all up for you. Many of these activities are concentrated around the mountains of the High Atlas, which stretch across the country in an east-west direction, separating the country’s fertile coastal plans to the north and the Saharan desert to the south.

The country’s highest peak, the Jebel Toubkal (13671ft), is a “non-technical” climb, meaning that fit people with minimal experience can attempt it as well, in a time span spread over two days to six. Be prepared for ice and snow in December, and be sure to take along a guide. If you are lucky, you might even get enough snow to go skiing in Oukaimeden, 45km south of Marrakesh, and home to the highest ski lift in Africa.

If that sounds too extreme, try the treks in the stunning geographies of Central Morocco. The Todgha gorge is carved out of the eastern High Atlas, an area of sheer cliffs and flat valley bottoms; it is perfect for rappellers and rock-climbers. The Dades gorge, located between the High Atlas and the Anti Atlas ranges, is dotted with many Berber kasbahs.

To the south of the mountains, one can dip one’s toes into the Saharan sand experience at Erg Chebbi and Erg Chigaga (ergs are large sand formations created by the wind). Besides camel rides out into the desert, tour operators offer dinner on the dunes and a night under the stars. Be warned, though, that nights out in the sands in December will be bitterly cold.

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