• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Were Africans civilized in the 17th century compared to the British?

Extracts from this document...


´╗┐Was Africa Civilized In the 17th Century (compared to Britain) "Civilization is Civilization can be classified historically as a form of humans living in urban centres, have mastered the act of smelting metals and have developed a method of writing. It can also be defined as a ?social order promoting cultural creation. Four elements constitute it: economic provision, political organization, moral traditions and the pursuit of knowledge and the arts."(Will Durant) The comparison between 17th century Africa and Britain is inevitable as the British thought themselves to be superior to their African counterparts. In fact they believed they were so superior, that they were of the opinion that cloth, iron, jewellery and rifles were equal to the average African, therefore generating the start of an inhumane human slave trade to quell ?the insatiable demand for labour? in Britain?s increasing amount of colonies and industries at home. One of the most accurate indicators of civilization is to examine the trade relations of the respective countries. Prior to the European voyages of exploration in the fifteenth century, African rulers had already established trade links with the Mediterranean world, western Asia and the Indian Ocean region. Among the many items of trade were ivory, ostrich feathers and the cola nut (to the Mediterranean) ...read more.


Contrary to popular beliefs, 17th century Africa was in fact prospering under relatively organized rule and far from being ravaged by civil wars. Most of Africa was run by a centralized government. Territorial expansion and dialogue among the powerful states resulted in economic, artistic and cultural exchanges. The exact nature of the political and military engagements among these states are unclear but it is certain there was no extreme excessiveness of warfare. Britain?s internal governance on the other hand was in danger of falling apart at that time. Until the middle of the 17th century, there was one king and a parliament but King Charles I held most of the power. This created increasing friction between him and members of Parliament, resulting in the horrific civil war (1642). The king was later executed and power changed hands many times until King Charles II returned and re-established the English monarchy. Arab writers over the centuries have continually described an Africa plentiful in Agricultural produce. Al-Bakri, an Arab writer, describes gardens at Awdaghurst (a town on the trans-Saharan trade route) as having gardens planted with date palm, irrigated wheat, fig trees, vines, henna and gourds. In the town of Takrur, sorghum and cotton were cultivated. ...read more.


The idea of a balance between the sexes is a dynamic concept that is nowhere evident in early British culture. To Africans in Yoruba culture, this balance of power between the sexes grants both men and women an equal degree of power, but in different ways. In Britain, women's views and thoughts did not matter as they were thought to be very inferior to men. Their pursuits were restricted to domestic matters only - taking care of their homes, husbands and children. Women were discouraged from directly expressing political views, nevertheless, many women were able to make public their private views through the veil of personal, religious writings. Women who challenged societal norms and prejudices risked their lives?Mary Dyer was hanged for repeatedly challenging the Massachusetts law that banished Quakers from the colony. In conclusion, based on all the factors taken into consideration, I believe that Africa was extremely civilized for its time. The peoples of Africa had a rich and varied history and culture long befor colonization. They had a variety of political arrangements, including kingdoms, city states and other organizations each with their own languages and cultures. West Africans had also conducted trade with Southern Europeans through the North African merchants for centuries. The local economy also prospered. It is with the uttermost conviction that I state my opinion with regarding the civilization of Africans. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE History section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work