Special Focus of the Milwaukee Community Journal

Written by admin   // February 18, 2011   // 0 Comments

BLACK History Month

It may be a guy thing today, but it began as a tribal thing.

Sanakhou” is an ancient African word dating back to the 13th century, and it refers to a pact made between warriors in which they pledge to each other to come to one another’s aid in a time of need.

According to one expert on Black history, it was the beginning of one of the key concepts of friendship as we know it today.

The concept of Sanakhou was essentially the first time the notion of ‘I have your back,’ was codified as part of the tribal culture,” said Elizabeth Evans, an educator with a Master’s Degree and a lifelong interest in African history. “It was a key element in the tribal customs of the 13th century.

The idea wasn’t necessarily new, but making it part of the warrior culture as an official pact between two warriors changed the way tribes lived and fought together.

The pact of friendship went beyond being something that was casual or acknowledged personally. It was now part of the tribal dynamic, and it became a matter of pride and honor among those who shared that pact.”

Evans’ studies have focused on the earliest recorded histories of African tribes, and she discovered that the typical connotation of tribes being in a constant state of war or aggression simply was not the case.

There was a time early in the African culture in which the different tribes were not at war, but rather, in a state of peaceful coexistence,” she added.

When you say the word tribal, there is this universal sense that the culture focused on war, battle and territorial acquisition, and that’s just not true.

As the concept of Sanakhou clearly demonstrates, tribal honor was less about conquering and more about caring for one another.

Brotherhood, fellowship and family were the core values, just as they are in Western society today.”

Evans said she wants to introduce a different view of the African continent into the popular culture.

Back in the days of pre-colonial Africa, the golden years of the first tribal empires, there was actually a time of peace and prosperity for the independent villages,” she added. “It’s a time that does not focus on modern day challenges such as war, corruption, famine, disease and human atrocities.

Instead, I want people to become aware of the glory days of the early African empires, and how they relate to the modern era of Black history in the West.”

About Elizabeth Evans

Elizabeth Evans grew up in suburban Philadelphia in a home full of books on Africa and a father who was a writer. After earning her master’s degree from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, she and her husband and two children moved to Los Angeles where she continued her career in education.

Her first published book, Sanakhou, is about the 13th century Empire of Mali. It is a romance and a history with a bit of a mystery.

Elizabeth writes about West Africa, not only because in writing about it she is codifying her own ancestry, but also because she is fascinated by the great African kingdoms and hopes to interest others in learning about a history of which few Westerners are aware.

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