An Overview of Black History

Compiled & Edited by Phillip True, Jr.

13. Kingdoms of Inner Africa:
      Zimbabwe and Monomotapa

Basil Davidson, in his book The Lost Cities of Africa, describes Great Zimbabwe as a group of stone ruins lying about seventeen miles southwest of Fort Victoria and a few miles from the main road which now links southern Zimbabwe to South Africa.

These ruins are known for the manner in which they were skillfully put together and their large conceptions, tall walls and towers, round gateways symbolizing power, unity, and ordered settlement. All walls are made of flat brick-like stones, chopped from wide "leaves" of exfoliated rock from parent hillsides, and may be seen as far north as the walls of Jebel Uri, in Darfur.

As time passed, the walls grew more elaborate and taller. The whole building was approximately 300 feet long and 200 feet wide, with a thickness of 20 feet. These walls surrounded the dwelling of the ruler of a powerful state. They guarded the mysteries of those who smelted gold and other minerals. They imposed their reputation on coastal visitors whose reports would travel as far as maritime Europe.

There was great development, but never a revolutionary break with tradition; no outside cultures intruded here and crossed their influence fruitfully with what they found. The true greatness of achievement of these builders of the south may best be measured, no doubt, by this very isolation in which they dwelt.

Monomotapa was the last great African empire. Chancellor Williams wrote, "One might wonder of its beauty, how the Garden of Eden surpassed it?"

The Vakaranga immigrants who developed the Empire of Monomotapa followed the general practice of establishing effective political rule, while promoting economic development. There was much desire for beauty and perfection in the kingdom of the Monomotapa.

In considering the destruction of Zimbabwe and Monomotapa, the ancient ruins of so many cities, towns, and villages are the story pages of the unwritten history we seek. Just as the written records of Black history were destroyed, here too in Monomotapa, the first Arabs and Europeans to find these long since deserted sites, undertook wrecking operations beyond belief to gain any valuable remains that they could.

The fact that almost all of these ruins were located in or near gold mining areas enabled some writers to "explain" wanton destruction was carried on in a feverish search for gold. But their efforts were in vain. So much could not be destroyed all at once.

There was a record left written in stone that tells the story of Blacks who were building a highly developed civilization in Southern Africa during the same period their brothers were amazing the world by their advances in Northern Ethiopia (Egypt) and its southern region (Sudan).

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