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Peter K. LeMaire
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concerning Africa Update
Prof. Gloria Emeagwali
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This issue of Africa Update focuses
on African textiles with specific reference to Yoruba cloth. Dr. Olaoye,
a specialist in this aspect of African technology reflects on the
evolution of cloth making in Yoruba city-states such as Ijebu, Owo,
Osogbo and Ilorin. He considers Ilorin to be a major center of cloth in
today’s Nigeria. Some of the migrants from Old Oyo made their way to
this area. City states such as Kano, Bida, Zaria, Onitsha and Ibadan
became important centers for the distribution of Ilorin cloth. Symbols
such as the crescent and the cross would be integrated in various
designs. Designers also used geometrical shapes such as squares and
circles. The significance of dress for certain ceremonies is also
discussed. According to Dr. Olaoye, embroidered garments were associated
with the aristocracy in the past and continue to be popular with
The issue concludes with the first segment of an interview with Dr.
Francis Gudyanga. We also include excerpts from interviews with African
delegates to the First Intergenerational Conference on Human Rights,
August 2005. I thank Dr. Amii Omara-Otunnu, the holder of the UNESCO
Chair in Human Rights, University of Connecticut, Storrs for giving me
the permission to interview these delegates and record their
perspectives on aspects of contemporarary African politics and culture.
Dr. Gloria Emeagwali (Chief Editor)
Table of Contents
CLOTH TALKS: A STUDY OF CLOTH AMONG THE YORUBA IN NIGERIA
Dr. R. A. OLAOYE, DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY UNIVERSITY OF ILORIN, ILORIN,
The centrality of cloth in the life of humans is rather
incontrovertible. Cloth ranks among the most basic necessities of life,
such as food, and shelter. It is, therefore, needful to man. In
addition, part of the decency that man desires is provided by cloth. In
this context, the type of cloth that one wears, says volumes about a
person. In spite of the unique nature of cloth, however, it would appear
that not many people understand cloth beyond being a wearing apparel.
Citing the example of the Yoruba in Nigeria, the main thrust of this
study is to bring into a clear relief the many characteristics of cloth.
In doing this, attention has been paid to the attribute of cloth as a
talking-guide: 'a decoder' - which communicates message about a person,
place or thing. In this respect, the study is in four sections apart
from introduction. The first section gives a background history and the
second one discusses the cultural context of cloth. The third, on the
other hand, reflects on the socio-political connotation of cloth. The
focus of the fourth section is on other attributes of cloth. The study
then concludes by illuminating the high points raised in the body of the
The fact that clothe was one of the earliest fundamental arts of
among the Yoruba can hardly be contested. From time immemorial, the
Yoruba people, who are concentrated mostly in the southwestern part of
Nigeria, had been well known for their techniques in cloth production.
Before it was destroyed in the 19th century, for instance, old Oyo was a
significant center of the weaving industry. Thereafter, other places
also assumed position of prominence in the industry. For example, Ibadan
became a popular center for the production of adire cloth and by 1900,
good quality adire cloth was already in production among the Egba.
Describing the textile industry in Ijanna, in the Egbado territory of
Egbaland, Hugh Clapperton was recorded to have remarked in the 1820s
We have observed several looms going here: in
one house we saw eight or ten -in fact - a regular manufactory.
Their cloth is good in texture, and some very fine.
Likewise, there is enough information on the Ijebu, Owo and Osogbo woven
cloth. The Ijebu produced high quality and durable clothe, which from
the 17th century was exported to Benin, where Europeans bought it. At
Owo, it was observed that there was virtually no woman who was not
engaged in weaving. The women worked for a long period at their looms
each day, and scarcely was there a pattern which some of them could not
produce. In addition to the remarkable weaving skill of its people,
Osogbo also ranked as one of the foremost areas of dye production in
Nigeria. The women dyers were famous for their varied and intricate
techniques in dyeing. They dyed the cotton needed to make cloth. Men and
women wove the material such as the local fabric called kiiipa. The dye
culture of the community has earned it the traditional cognomen: 'Osogbo
ilu aro', that is, Osogbo the city of dyeing.
For a long time now, Iseyin has remained an important area for men's
weaving in Yorubaland. The weaving industry in the town benefited from
the early 19th century upheavals in the West and North-West Yorubaland.
In particular, it received a considerable impetus during the first
decades of the 19th century with the arrival of Muslim weaver refugees
from settlements destroyed by llorin. Such was the devotion of the
people to the industry that today, Iseyin is one of the most prominent
centers of hand-woven cloth in Nigeria.
In the neighboring communities of Shaki, Kishi and Igboho, weaving was
also done. Some of the weaving families in these areas who were noted to
come from Old Oyo apparently gave a boom to the industry. The domination
of weaving by men in these places contrasted with the practice in some
communities like Okene, Yagba, Oyi etc., where women largely dominated
But perhaps, the major center of cloth in Nigeria today is llorin.
Because of her strategic position as a gateway between the south and the
drier savannah to the north, llorin was able to influence the
north-south trade to the advantage of the local economy; an important
part of which was her textile industry.
The industry was observed for example to have benefited from imported
cotton, waste and wild silk from Hausaland. Nor was the influence of
Yorubaland on the industry less great. Following the events which led to
the destruction of Old Oyo, many people from Yorubaland settled in
llorin, some of whom were weavers: In this way, the intermediary
position of llorin on the north-south trade route provided an added
advantage for her textile industry, especially when compared with others
elsewhere. Above all, most llorin children were born into it and it was
almost an initiation rite, particularly for males for whom it-was first
and foremost a pre-occupation. Thus over time there developed in llorin
a great population of weavers.
Invariably, the weavers were very dexterous on the looms and
accordingly, they produced fine textured cloth which was highly prized
both within and outside Nigeria. For instance, local fabric such as
alari, etu, sanvan, tobe and eleya were noted to be prominent both for
domestic use and as items of trade in several communities to the north
and south of the country. Indeed, places like Kano, Bida, Zaria, Onitsha,
Ibadan and Lagos were important centers for the sale and distribution of
llorin cloth. In the same vein, the local textile materials were noted
to have constituted the bulk of the llorin trade with the Europeans. J.
Edward's view of the industry was apparently conclusive when he
There is little doubt llorin has the largest number of weavers in
the country and they have considerable skill which could make them
the Jacquard weavers of Nigeria should the industry at some future
date be mechanized.
In general, textile production in Nigeria had for many years been an
important industry among several societies. Except in a few areas as
earlier indicated, both men and women who had efficiently used the
horizontal and vertical looms worked the industry to produce good
quality cloth which satisfied the domestic and foreign markets. Not
simply an industry or a trade, textile production was at the same time a
technology evolved by the people in response to various demands, among
which was the need to clothe themselves. Indeed, the technology produced
cloth of high quality, durability and hard-wearing texture that were
noted by the European traders to have far excelled the prints and
homespuns of Manchester.
THE CULTURAL CONTEXT
Yoruba textiles, like all other traditional fabric elsewhere in Africa,
exhibit an admirable aesthetic order in dialogue with cultural life. In
the Yoruba community, for instance, the indigo-produced tie-dye cloth
widely known as adire exists in visual structures, motifs and concepts.
Embedded in cloth are motifs, patterns, designs, color and style.
A typical illustration in this respect is the motif of the crescent and
the circle that was one of the early cloth designs particularly after
the integration of Islam in the city. Asked why the motif was in
crescent and circle, the designer, known locally as an aladire who is at
the same time a dyer or alaro, explained impressively the ideas
represented as follows:
The Crescent: Osupa Adini (Moon of the Muslim faith)
The Circle: Obiripo I'aiye (The world is round)
The meaning could not be more lucid. The crescent reflects the
acceptance of the Islamic faith and the circle, like in much of Africa
represents eternity - birth, life, death and rebirth. The traditional
dyers and designers constantly fix motifs within the cultural values of
In terms of design, it is in fact, not enough for the traditional dyers
to make a pleasing or satisfying assemblage of lines and shapes without
meaning. One of such patterns among the Yoruba communities readily comes
to mind, that is, the 'square’. By sewing pleats together in straight
rows, at intervals across the width of the cloth, a pattern of squares
is achieved when the stitching is removed after the dye process. What
results from this is usually an attractive pattern of squares with the
areas that resist the dye touching each other at the corners. To explain
just why squares are favored in textile design, an informant cited
proverbs and sayings from life situations as follows:
The pot that is as wide as it is high
does not fall over and spill the soup.
Or, the man who lies dead on the mat
is the same length as he stood when he breathed.
Taken together, these sayings or, for that matter, the square patterns
are imbued with the concept of stability which, within the context of
textile design, could be described as "aesthetics of balance". It is not
only the square but also the cross design that is noted to be widely
used among the Yoruba communities. The cross-design may well have got
pre-Christian meanings, given the fact that it is equally found in some
non-Christian areas. The vertical arm of the cross represents the path
of the spirit from the moist earth 'from which every life springs to the
sky above’ where the spirits of the departed ascend. The horizontal arm
of the cross in this context then stands in for the living people and
signals the interaction of life now and life hereafter.
Indeed, through an excellent use of dye in patterning, cloths do
literally talk. One can know, with little difficulty, "what the cloth
says", not only in Yorubaland but generally in other African communities
of textile culture. The "voice" of cloth in the appliqués of Dahomey is
observed to be the history of a people. In that community, certain men
of the Fon people of Abomey are the makers of appliqué in history -
imbued clothing, hangings, banners and caps among others. Agadja who
ruled Dahomey between 1708-1940 was the first to extend the kingdom to
the sea and deal directly with Europeans. Accordingly, the historical
event was represented by a motif of a sailing ship. On the other hand,
Akaba, the last king to rule before the Europeans came appeared in a
motif of a boar.
Apart from the aesthetic aspect of symbolic patterns characteristic of
African traditional fabric, there is also what can be described as the
"notion of color". Each of the colors obtained from the indigo dye like
the white, blue and black is not without meaning.
The Yoruba designers are also recorded to have made cloth designs that
generally bear the symbols of rulers and heroes in and around the
community. The design motifs of Alaafin, Ooni, Sango, Olokun and Afonja
among others were before now apparently constant reminders to the
traditional clothe producers of their primordial attachment to Oduduwa,
regarded as the ancestor of the Yoruba and people of Yoruba descent.
Each of the motifs has individual peculiarities. Afonja is for instance
portrayed as a warlord, and among the configurations characteristic of
the cloth design are stylized horses and swords. In the same vein, the
Alaafin of Oyo and Ooni of Ife which are titles of great rulers of
Yorubaland are depicted in their majesties with such characteristic
paraphernalia as the crown, bead, heavily designed traditional dress and
staff of office. In some cases, the design is further embellished with
portraits of servants and wards, paying traditional homage.
A curious but typical addition to the cloth-design
of Alaafin is the motif of fire -puffing caricatures that represents
Sango (the god of thunder) and at the same time emphasizes the wide
scope of the Alaafin's power. Olokun (goddess of the sea) on the other
hand is usually characterized by a greater use of purely decorative
design motifs. But more often than not, the design also includes
stylizations of wire, snakes, birds, leaves and combs, reflecting at
different times, the mien of the goddess.
There is, indeed, rather an infinite variety of
traditional themes found in the Yoruba cloth-designs. The innovative
skills of the individual artist often improve on the traditional
patterns and new ones are added to the adire repertoire. Incorporated
into the background designs, which could be square, rectangular,
circular, spiral, diagonal and so on, are such diverse objects as frogs,
scorpions, eggs, ducks, fowls, leaves, chameleons, sugar lumps, and so
on. Furthermore, there are the representational forms of animal
figurines including elephants, lion and leopards, which signify the
prominence of the Yoruba nationality.
Apparently significant is also the pattern called Sunbebe, which refers
to the beads a woman wears under her clothing and which should only be
seen by her husband. Each of the rectangular patterns of this cloth is
filled with very finely painted geometric motifs in a style analogous to
the stitched patterns already described elsewhere in this study. Some of
the geometric forms depict things like leaves, horsetail, and mirrors
and so on. Indeed there seems to be an inexhaustible catalog of motifs
known to Yoruba dyers, conveying one meaning or the other.
Likewise, the pillars of the Mapo Hall with elaborate details of
interspersing motifs and geometric repeats, communicate the features of
the Yoruba traditional heritage. In another instance, a replica of the
Ibadan dun motif is found in Abeokuta and called Egba gbavi, which means
'Egba is a popular place'. This is expressed in the design called
Ologodo that is, 'the making of circles.' In these 'circles' are
embedded a pleasant train of thought. The sight of the pattern readily
conveys to mind the qualities of the Egba people and their land. In the
same way, such patterns as the mosque, Koranic board, crescent and
similar design configurations characteristic of llorin cloth motifs are
also found among other communities.
In point of fact, such cloth designs as 'life is sweet'; 'friends hate
lies'; 'son of the soil'; 'so feye'; 'paribotoriboto'; 'omolangidi kiku;'
'aye lu jara' and 'aro meta' among a host of others, are found freely in
some communities such that it is difficult at times to ascertain their
origins. Commenting on the diffusion of the design techniques, Renee
Boser had this to say:
The designs by specific resists (including those obtained by
froissage (crinkling) don't seem to be diffused - except in
instances - by progressive transmission from one people to another.
Their techniques have been obtained and assimilated on the spot in
the region of Cap Verde by indigenous peoples like, for example, the
Wolof, and by certain Sudanese peoples present in Senegal. In the
present case they were diffused in West Africa by their affiliates
the Soninke (Sarakoles) and the Manding (Malinke) and their
migrations and journeying through Gambia, Ivory Coast, Sudan
(present-day Mali) etc.
OTHER ATTRIBUTES OF CLOTH
Traditional ceremonies form part of the feature of life among the
Yoruba. Each ceremony has a dialectic relationship with cloth in that
such a ceremony and the type of cloth used in celebrating it are usually
in constant soliloquy. In this particular wise, cloth reflects, the mood
of the ceremony. While for instance, bright and elegant cloth
communicates happy ceremony, a dull and unattractive dress conveys a sad
In Yorubaland, it is customary to celebrate ceremonies such as marriage,
naming of a new child, house-warming, wake-keeping and socio-cultural
gatherings with choice cloths. Every happy event is often reflected by
the types of "cloths which are used, In this regard, it is common for
the celebrants to put on expensive aso ofi (cloth from the loom) such as
ewu etu, sanyan and alari. In some cases, cloth is chosen which depict
current social values in the society. Such a value is naturally
under-pinned by the designs, patterns and styles of dresses used in
celebrating a particular occasion. In the case of house-warming and
marriage ceremonies for example, it is not uncommon to find cloth
designs and patterns which communicate the mood of the moment such as
Olowo 1'aiye mo, a wealthy person is known by all and iyawo dun losingin,
a fresh marriage is most happiest.
As earlier mentioned, the type of occasion naturally decides the type of
cloth for use.1 It is not always that one gets what he wants as life is
made up of good and bad sides. Thus when there is the bad side of life,
the cloth worn communicates the message. Such is the case of
death/funeral when cloth conveys the sad mood of the occasion. In the
event of death or funeral, for instance, it is customary among the
Yoruba to put oh cloth of black color or design to observe such an
event. Indeed, the use of black cloths has come to be synonymous with
death and funeral in Yorubaland.
One can also take a look at the traditional aristocractic tone of
dressing. It should be noted, for instance, that among the Yoruba,
sanyan and alari which are known to belong to the most costliest
hand-woven cloths were, before now, produced purposely for princely
folks, wealthy individuals and those who had made landmark achievements
in one sphere of life or the other. Thus in the palace, it is easy to
distinguish between an Oba (traditional ruler/king) and the palace
chiefs and the royal aides and servants.
The unique and special apparel that he puts on identifies a Yoruba
traditional ruler. Apart from the heavy embroidery, beaded garbs have
always been part of royal dressing. During public ceremonies, such
dressing becomes more apparent when the Oba appears in regalia symbolic
of full compliment of the royal paraphernalia of office. Thus even if it
can be said that nowadays, the use of beads and embroidery is no longer
restricted to traditional rulers or members of their courts,
nevertheless, its use is still substantially an aristocratic emblem.
The study has analyzed the attributes of cloth among the Yoruba.
Starting with the background of an elaborate weaving culture, the study
has shown that from time in history Yoruba are not a nude people and
that they possess a tradition which adds value to cloth. In this regard,
the study pinpointed the diverse uses to which cloth is put and each use
conveys a specific message. Accordingly, the types of cloth that are
traditionally common among the Yoruba and their peculiar language of
communication were identified and methodically discussed. The study was
able to conclude that among the Yoruba, cloth, indeed, means much. There
is hardly an eventthat does not have a code of dressing.
References include extensive oral interviews held at Ile-Ife, Osogbo and
Oyo, Nigeria between 1989 and 2004. Interviewees include Muniratu Iya,
Chief Malomo Odudu, Rafatu Karimu, Reverend Samuel Oguntona, Abeni Alade
and others. Archival resources at the Nigerian Archives at Kaduna were
also consulted extensively.
Table of Contents
George Dickson of Liberia
The following is an interview with George Dickson at a recent conference
on comparative human rights sponsored by The Institute of Comparative
Human Rights and the Coalition of Human Rights Organizations (CHRONE),
New England. The Institute hosted the first Intergenerational Conference
on Human Rights, University of Connecticut, August 7-13, 2005. Credit
for this conference must be given to the UNESCO Chair Professor
Omara-Otunnu, the Founding Chair of CHRONE and a working committee
coordinated by Nancy Wren, formerly of the Massachusetts Department of
The conference examined various aspects of human rights abuses in the
context of a wide range of issues including waste management and clean
water; tools for change through litigation, negotiation and politics;
HIV/AIDS; youth empowerment; the plight of children; human trafficking;
and various aspects of contemporary human rights abuses. The delegates
eventually came up with proposals for improved techniques for tackling
some of these issues around the world. They were expected to tap into
the various networking opportunities made possible by this conference on
return to the various regions around the globe from which they came.
Delegates were expected also to carry on with particular projects and
stay in touch with their peers and other resource persons.
Among the African delegates were Dickson George of Liberia, Mona and
Nada Abdellatif of Sudan and Steve Marwa Machege of the Pastor Machage
Memorial Hospital, Kenya. We decided to interview them on various
aspects of their region’s politics and socio-economic development. When
asked whether the conference met their expectations they were in the
affirmative. Dickson George felt that the discussions on gender
interaction were fantastic. Coping mechanisms in terms of the rights of
the child attracted the interest of Steve Marwa Machege. George Piwang
Jalobo formerly a lecturer in peace studies at Gulu University in
Northern Uganda also attended and shared his views. Here is an excerpt
from the interview with Dickson George.
GE: You are Dickson George. Kindly introduce yourself and tell us
something about the region you come from.
DG: Yes. I am Dickson George, a Liberian. I live in Liberia. Monrovia is
the capital. Neighboring countries include Guinea, Ghana, Cote d’ Ivoire
and Togo. I have been to several of these. For around 15 years Liberia
experienced civil war. I entered the university after high school and
was a member of the student movement. The government claimed there were
invasions from Guinea but the student movement queried this. The
president at that time Charles Taylor sent his forces against the
students for this and other reasons.
GE: Were you a student leader. Were you in a position of power? Was
there a structure?
DG: There was a secretary and a president. I was one of the student
GE: What was the objective of that pressure group. Was it
anti-government? What exactly was it?
DG: Not anti- government. For example when teachers were not paid and we
were not receiving instructors in the classroom, we protested.
GE: But why were you not against the government given the atrocities
associated with it?
DG: Well every Liberian eventually decided there must be peace. We had
to forget the past and work together. We needed peace.
GE: Can you remind us of the war and what caused it?
DG: A long history. Charles Taylor belonged to the faction of former
freed slaves. Samuel Doe overthrew the government that was largely
dominated by the descendants of the freed slaves who ruled Liberia for
almost one hundred years. Doe was from the indigenous group and executed
about 70 top government officials belonging to the descendants who
decided to take revenge. There was also ethnic rivalry involving the
Kran and other groups. Charles Taylor spearheaded a military take over.
GE: Are you referring to the Americo-Liberians? I think that is a better
terminology. I assume their children and grandchildren would be fully
Liberian. OK so it was a power struggle between different factions
within Liberia and it took ethnic dimensions. What about class? Would
you say there was a class dimension?
DG: It started off with a bit of that but turned into an ethnic issue.
GE: So you left Liberia and went to various African countries. Can you
give us your insights into some of these areas visited?
DG: Between 2001 and 2003 I spent some time in Cote d’Ivoire and then
went to Ghana where I experienced life in a refugee camp.
GE: Can you describe a bit of this?
DG: Refugee life is really difficult especially since refugees at that
time received nothing from the UNHCR. Refugees had to fend for
themselves and were in really tough situations. Some received money from
relatives whilst others created their own mini market in the camp and
sold to other refugees.
GE: I am told there is also a camp in Nigeria.
DG: Yes but I did not visit that one. What are your reflections, having
traveled through this region: any ideas to share with us?
DG: The Ghanaians are nationalistic but they are friendly. In Ivory
Coast the security guards were not. They seized all they could.
GE: May I interrupt you. Had the war in Ivory Coast started as yet? No.
The war started in 2003?
DG: Yes in Cote d’Ivoire, once the security personnel saw you. If you
didn’t have money… they would stop the bus put you down and let the bus
GE: I can assure you that in Nigeria the same would probably have
DG: In Ghana no. This did not happen.
GE: Name one thing that should be done in terms of solving human rights
DG: Well one thing is to maintain contact and find donors to sustain
programs. We should have major sensitization programs and activities.
The human rights issues we face now cannot be compared to the human
rights issues related to apartheid. We need enough training at various
levels. We must intervene now in times of peace and not wait for crises
GE: Well I thank you for taking the time to exchange your views with me.
DG: I thank you also. Imagine that I am the only West African at this
conference. Invitations were extended to other West Africans but the
embassies let them down. I hope that there would be the opportunity for
more West Africans to participate in the future so that we can make the
world a better place.
Table of Contents
Interview with Dr.
This interview was initiated at the XX11 International Congress of the
History of Science, Beijing 24-30 July 2005, People’s Republic of China.
The theme of the conference was Globalization and Diversity: Diffusion
of Science and Technology Throughout History. Among the five African
participants at the conference was Dr. Francis Gudyanga of Zimbabwe.
The interviewer is Dr. Gloria Emeagwali (GE) who also attended the
Beijing conference. The interviewee is Dr. Francis Gudyanga. (FG)
GE: Dr. Gudyanga, would you please introduce yourself?
FG: THANK YOU. I AM FRANCIS GUDYANGA, CHAIRMAN OF THE RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF ZIMBABWE THAT IS A STATUTORY BODY MANDATED TO PROMOTE AND COORDINATE
RESEARCH IN ALL FIELDS IN ZIMBABWE. IT WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1984. I AM A
CHEMIST AND A METALLURGIST BY TRAINING WITH RESEARCH INTERESTS IN THE
EXTRACTION OF MINERALS. ZIMBABWE HAS OVER 40 DIFFERENT MINERALS
INCLUDING GOLD, PLATINUM, NICKEL, And CHROME IN VERY ECONOMIC
GE: What steps have been taken in Zimbabwe to improve on the
institutional context of science in Zimbabwe? What specific
recommendations would you make for the improvement of science and
technology in Africa in the light of the Zimbabwean experience?
FG: THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE RESEARCH COUNCIL OF ZIMBABWE AND THE
MINISTRY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT ARE INSTITUTIONAL BODIES
WITHIN WHICH SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY IS ORGANIZED IN ZIMBABWE. THE
GOVERNMENT HAS BUILT SEVERAL RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS TO CATER FOR MOST
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY SECTORS. IN 2002 A SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY
WAS INITIATED WITHIN WHOSE FRAMEWORK SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMMES
ARE CARRIED OUT. FOR AFRICA, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY IMPROVEMENT AS A
TOOL FOR INDUSTRIALISATION AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IS CRUCIAL. MORE
CAPACITY BUILDING IS REQUIRED. MORE CENTRES OF EXCELLENCE ARE TO BE
ESTABLISHED TO TRAIN AND RETAIN A CRITICAL MASS OF S&T PROFESSIONALS.
THIS IMPLIES SIGNIFICANTLY MORE INVESTMENT IN MONEY TERMS IN SCIENCE AND
TECHNOLOGY. WITHOUT THIS MASSIVE INVESTMENT, AFRICA WILL CERTAINLY LAG
BEHIND IN THE KNOWLEDGE-BASED WORLD THAT WE ARE LIVING IN.
GE: Zimbabwe hosts one of Africa's largest monuments, recognized to be
an engineering masterpiece. You are a trained engineer, what are your
thoughts on the expertise reflected in this structure? What does this
say about Africa’s indigenous technology, in your view?
FG: GREAT ZIMBABWE IS AN ELOQUENT TESTAMENT TO THE ADVANCED ENGINEERING
ANDMASONRY EXPERTISE THAT THE BUILDERS OF THE MONUMENT POSSESSED. THE
STRUCTURE WAS BUILT USING DRY-STONE TECHNIQUE ENTIRELY WITHOUT MORTAR
INVOLVING MILLIONS OF STONES. THE WALLS REGULATE INSIDE TEMPERATURE.
IN MY VIEW GREAT ZIMBABWE, AND THE MANY ARTIFACTS FOUND IN ITS ENVIRONS
SYMBOLIZE THE ADVANCES IN INDIGENOUS TECHNOLOGY SUCH AS ENGINEERING AND
METALLURGY. EVIDENCE SUGGESTS THAT GREAT ZIMBABWE WAS AT THE CENTRE OF
AN INTERNATIONAL COMMERCIAL SYSTEM, WHICH ON THE CONTINENT OF AFRICA
ENCOMPASSED SETTLEMENTS ON THE EAST AFRICAN COASTS SUCH AS KILWA,
MALINDI AND MOGADISHU. BUT THIS TRADE NETWORK ALSO EXTENDED TO TOWNS IN
THE GULF, IN WESTERN PARTS OF INDIA, AND WENT AS FAR AS CHINA WHICH. (To
Table of Contents