April 23, 2011

OURStory: Moors of North Africa

I recently watched television series called Spartacus: Blood and Sand and Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. I enjoyed the show immensely ... especially the enslaved Moor known as Oenomaus who eventually became the Doctore of the gladiators. The story of the Moors is rarely told on television or in the movies.

The world news is filled with stories of conflicts in the so-called Middle East. Sometimes folks here in America don't realize that these stories are taking place in northern Africa ... ancestral home of the Moors.

When the Romans entered West Africa in 46 B.C., they saw Africans and called them Maures, from the Greek adjective Mauros, meaning dark or black. It is from Mauros and the Latin term Marues that the word Moor is derived. Since the inhabitants of North Africa were Black, the Romans and later the Europeans called them Moors. It is no coincidence that the land inhabited by the Moors was called Mauritania and Morocco, meaning "Land of the Blacks."

In the beginning of the seventh century, the Arab prophet, Muhammad, began to preach the word of Islam. Consumed with religious fervor, the Arabs sought to spread Islam and conquer the world. By 708, the Arabs had overrun North Africa. Consequently, Moors in large numbers accepted Arabic as the national language and converted to their conqueror's religion, Islam. Interestingly, hundreds of years later, Africans who had been enslaved by Europeans would again convert to their conqueror's religion, Christianity.

After the fall of the Roman Empire (fifth century), Spain was held by a barbaric white tribe, the Visigoths. Though they were Christians, their brand of Christianity was cruel and unjust. For this reason, Spain's Jews, serfs, and slaves looked favorably upon the arrival of a new civilization in which they would be able to live free of persecution.

Tarik, a great African chief, was given the rank of general in the Arab army and sent to raid Spain. On April 30, 711, Tarik landed on the Spanish Coast with 7,000 troops. His troops consisted of 300 Arabs and 6,700 native Africans (Moors). An ancient source, Ibn Husayn (ca. 950, recorded that these troops were "Sudanese", an Arabic word for Black people.

The Moors were unstoppable, and Visigothic Spain ceased to be. The few resisting Visigoths fled to the caves of the Cantabrian Mountains. Later in the century, the cave dwellers would venture out of the Cantabrian Mountains and reclaim parts of northern Spain.

The Moors of Africa were the real conquerors. When the Arabs arrived, the hardest part of the job had been done. Instead of treating the Moors fairly, the Arab chiefs assigned themselves the most fertile regions. The dissatisfied Moors were not long in coming to blows with the Arabs. (The History of Spain by Louis Bertrand and Sir Charles Petrie - published by Eyre & Spottiswood, London, 1945, page 36). Ultimately, the Moors acquired two-thirds of the peninsula, which they named Al-Andulus.

Al-Andulus was obliged to pay tribute to the Arab Caliph (King) of Damascus. As Al-Andulus acquired its own identity, its bond with the Caliph began to weaken. In 756, Al-Andulus proclaimed itself an independent state. Thus, its only links to the Arabs would be the Islamic faith and the Arabic language.

The Moorish architectural remains in Cordoba, Seville, and Granada prove conclusively that these cities were more prosperous and artistically more brilliant than any Christian cities in Europe at the time. The Moors of Al-Andulus held the torch of leaning and civilization when the rest of Europe was plunged in barbaric ignorance.

If Moorish Spain had been an accomplishment of the Arabs it would have been called Arab or Arabic Spain. Instead it bears the name of its creators, the Moors, i.e., Moorish Spain.

Moorish culture was Black in origin, bright in Achievement, and powerful in its influence on the rest of Europe.

Sometimes it is important to take a moment for OURstory ... we cannot forever be mis-educated by HIS-story all the time! What can you share with us about the Moors of North Africa?


Villager said...

All - Annette Thomas wrote, There is a current film out called, Hidden Colors, You can google it or you tube it, to get more information. Thanks for your information."

I hadn't heard of this documentary until Annette sent me her email. I thought that others here on this blog might find the documentary of interest as well.

The Nubian Ibex said...

Well well! This is quite informative. I am sooooo ever appreciative of this. I too watched both seasons of the spartacus and may i say that onemaeous was beautiful!! scars and all! I loved his performance the respectable light he was in. They did respect him because we was a great warrior and if it wasnt for him, may of the others may have never been. I like that he wasnt a crook and was on the side of bettering the lives of the gladiators held like slaves and puppets for the dominas and dominuses.

Also I have 2 friends, one teaching me DINKA language of the sudanese and One teaching me Xhosa of south africa. I can not tell you how excited I am to be learning so much.

I really hate how many blacks feel a white person has to say something for it to be true. Youve got to gain all kinds of knowledge and take in both sides and there you will find the truth. One side is exactly that, One side and in complete.

Thank You for contributing to the african knowledge base villager!

Villager said...

Nubian Ibex - Thank you for your kind words and good luck on your continued learning of the Dinka language! I appreciate you for taking time to share your comments. So few people actually share comments on blogs any longer. Anyhow, I'm glad that this information on the Moors is now out here in cyberspace for posterity. I hope others find reasons to come and learn as well. We must tell OURstory whenever possible!