Guyz and Gals there was a thread here sometime ago that touched on the fact that European explorers in Africa were often surprised to find that the African royals knew of current and past events in Europe,and at times even sent their own explorers there in the past, if anyone knows of the thread title or additional info please bump. Thanx in advance.
Posts: 6546 | From: japan | Registered: Feb 2009
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quote: The situation was perhaps similar to that in the early 19th century, when European explorers, who had penetrated the African interior in order to unveil her secrets, were amazed at how well the West Africans knew what was going on in the outside world. When Mungo Park arrived in Segu on the Niger in July 1796, being the first European in this city, he was told that the British and French were fighting in the Mediterranean. The news probably concerned the battles that took place after the treaty of Basle which was made in April 1795, when Park was in his way to Gambia. In 1824, Hugh Clapperton visited Kano, being again the first European in this city, and he was surprised by Muhammad Bello, the ruler of Sokoto caliphate, who asked him detailed questions concerning the British policy in India and the religious situation in Europe. In early 1871, Gustav Nachtigal, the famous German traveller who had left Tripoli in 1869 in order to explore Central Africa, was told in Bornu that a war had broke out between franse and nimse, meaning Frenchmen and Germans. Considering that the Franco-Prussian war began in July 1870, the news had reached Bornu very quickly.
Perhaps news of the great events in the medieval Mediterranean, like the fall of Acre in 1291 or the Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453, were heard in the capital of Mali as quickly. However, there are only few mentions in the contemporary Arabic sources concerning the transmission of news across the Sahara. We know, for example, that Mansa Musa of Mali sent a delagation to congratulate the Marinid Sultan Abu 'l-Hasan for the conquest of Tlemcen. Since Tlemcen had fallen to Marinids in April 1337, the news most probably arrived in Mali with the traders who had left Morocco in autumn, which was the usual season of departure for the caravans to the south. The Malian delegation was sent to Fez probably in the following summer, when the caravans returned to the north. Similarly, another Malian delegation was sent to congratulate Sultan Abu 'l-Hasan for the conquest of Constantine in 1349. The prompt action on part of the Malian rulers proves that they knew well the political geography of Northern Africa, being fully aware of the consequenses of the Marinid expansion to central Maghrib....
Similarly, it was another channel for West Africans to the outside world: in 1594 a Portuguese navigator reported that he had in Senegal met many blacks who were not only capable of speaking French but have even visited France. In was only during the age of imperialism that the encounter of West Africans with other civilisations turned definitely from controlled relationship to collision.