Unrest in Sudan

Flag of Sudan

A few weeks ago, we talked about The New Scramble for Africa. Our hearts go out to our brothers and sisters in Sudan as unrest rises in the country. Those who think that this is a “simple” feud between two generals, or two “brothers” as portrayed in the news, must look deeper. Why are US troops getting deployed there? In the early 2000s, people around the globe were bombarded non-stop with information about the genocide in Darfur and “slavery” in Sudan; we were all told that Northern Sudanese were “white” who treated poorly their Southern Sudanese brothers who were “Black” which is a very simplistic and exaggerated way of looking at Sudan (remember Libya and Slavery: Sheep without a Shepherd in recent years?). Hollywood stars such as George Clooney came out in numbers claiming to care about the plight of the Black man, and saying that the Black people of Darfur Sudan were enslaved by their lighter skinned Sudanese brothers.To all who know the tactic of divide-and-conquer, and know social conflicts in Africa, we are always manipulated into thinking that every conflict in Africa is about this tribe vs. that tribe, this group vs. group; thus neighbors become enemies, when in reality, it is a diamond mine or oil field coveted by external forces which is at the core of the issue (Northern Mozambique today). The conflict in Sudan led to the split of Sudan, which was then Africa’s largest country, into Sudan with capital in Khartoum, and South Sudan with capital in Juba. Many forget that the southern part of then-Sudan was rich in oil fields, and that this split diminished Sudan’s oil output to the detriment of the newly created South Sudan (in passing, wasn’t the Pope in South Sudan in February? The Pope Visits the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan), thus putting a big dint on Sudan’s partnerships with China (Sudan was providing more than 10% of China’s oil needs and a Chinese presence on the horn of Africa). After the split, the world’s attention which was on Darfur moved on, Darfur which was supposedly the goal of Western interventions was never resolved, but South Sudan with the oil fields was detached from Sudan.

The New Scramble for Africa (Source: Source: Dr Jack & Curtis for City Press, National Institute African Studies (NIAS))

The cold war between the West and the East took place mostly in other countries like Angola, Mozambique, Congo, Afghanistan, Nicaragua in Africa, Asia, Latin America with many coups d’état and conflicts around the globe. Similarly today, the new kind of war has started yet again, but this time, it is on African soil with The New Scramble for Africa as the world moves toward energy-“conscious” policies.

How do we, Africans, stop from having our lands be a theater for others’ wars? How can we independently make learned decisions for our people without being dragged in others’ conflict?

Saï Island: Influences from Pharaonic Egypt, Christianity, and Islam in Nubia

Church pillars on Sai Island (Source: Atlas Obscura)

Our hearts go out to our brothers and sisters in Sudan whose country is going through unrest again. This unrest is part of the New Scramble for Africa, and to a greater extent the great global war between the West and the East which as always plays on other continents.

Today, we will continue our exploration of Saï Island, an island in Sudan which contains ruins spanning thousands of years and several empires. It is the largest island on the Nile river, about 12 km long and 5.5 km wide. Although Sudan is today an Islamic country, Saï was once occupied by Egyptians during the New Kingdom, and later was the site of the ancient medieval Christian Nubian Empire known as Makuria which flourished in Sudan between the 7th and 14th centuries. Later, during the 16th century, the Ottomans founded a fortress on the island. Saï Island has always been Nubian, and over the centuries has seen different cultures, religions, and much more.

Ruins on Sai Island (Source: Lendi Travel)

Many Empires have prevailed on the island. The presence of the Egyptian town and temple which dates back to 1500 BC is a good example of the strong imprint of the Pharaonic Egypt, with among many other things a spolia bearing the  cartouche of Amenhotep IV, amongst other 18th Dynasty rulers: the fort was founded by Pharaoh Ahmose and then overbuilt by Amenhotep I and his successors. Saï Island was also an important royal site during the Meroitic period as testified by the discovery of pillars/columns with the names of the Queen Amanitore and King Natakamani of Nubia. It is clear today that Saï Island was the seat of a Nubian Bishop as indicated by the remains of a Medieval Christian cruciform church, identified as a cathedral, the largest in Nubia; while the Ottoman presence is noted by the remains of a fort built in the 2nd half of the 16th century AD. The place is full of pottery dating several centuries, if not millenia. However, part of the island, the northern part, was flooded when Lake Nasser was created in 1971 (most monuments that were destroyed were on the Nubian/Sudan side of the dam, while a lot on the Egyptian side were recovered and moved to higher ground – don’t get me wrong, Abu Simbel is amazing and worthy to have been saved, but wasn’t the fortress at Buhen just as important?).

Chert pebble with ochre residue from Sai Island, Sudan. (Source: Illustration by Van Peer, et al.

Saï Island is an exceptional testimony to early human occupation in this part of Africa, notably the Homo-erectus and the Homo-Sapiens. It provided early attested evidence for the use of color in the world with rare finds of ochre and ways to manipulate it (Saï Island in Sudan – Earliest Site with Evidence of Ochre Use by Modern humans). It is one of the key sites in Sudan (which was not flooded) which shows the prime influence of Egyptian culture in Nubia during the 2nd millennium BC, and the evolution and fusion of both cultures with mutual influences from Nubia and Pharaonic Egypt across centuries. All these attributes qualify Saï Island as unique with an outstanding Universal Value.

To learn more about the findings of this cathedral and more on Saï Island, check out these articles on the Smithsonian Magazine, UNESCO World Heritage, the Art Newspaper, Sudan National Museum‘s website, Tomb26 on Saï Island, and much more.

Saï Island in Sudan – Earliest Site with Evidence of Ochre Use by Modern humans

Chert pebble with ochre residue from Sai Island, Sudan. (Source: Illustration by Van Peer, et al.

Saï Island, in Sudan, is located in the Nubian region of the Nile River, and is the very earliest site with evidence of ochre use by modern humans. It is the largest island on the Nile River, and was occupied intermittently by people throughout the Paleolithic. The island is rich in history, and today we will focus on the color impact of Saï island in the history of the world.

Found on the island, there are several archaeological layers dating from about 180,000 to 200,000 years ago. Excavation there has yielded large quantities of red and yellow ochre. While red is almost always the dominant color at early human sites, the inhabitants of Saï Island seem to have preferred yellow pigment. The significant use of yellow ochre there indicates strong cultural choices and the use of new manipulation techniques to change colors, call it chemistry, which could have been heating or something else. Thus, Saï Island is known for being the site of the earliest ochre-processing kit in the world; on the site were found sandstone mortars, a rectangular sandstone slab with a depression carefully hollowed out in its center. The slab appears to have been a grinding stone, with evidence of ochre powder within the depression. Two small pieces of chert stone with fragments of ochre still attached were found nearby. The pieces of chert were used to crush the ochre into a fine powder on the slab, like an early mortar and pestle. These were dated to about ca 180,000 years ago. This makes Saï island an important site to understand the initial emergence of modern human behavior in the world, and thus the start of colors, and new techniques of manipulations of ochre.

To learn more, check out Van Peer et al. J. of Human Evolution 45, 187 (2003) and Fulcher et al., J. of Archaeological Sci. Rep. 33, 102550 (2020).

African Joke: All Secrets Out

Religious leader

Three religious leaders get together and decide to confess their faults and weaknesses to each other so that each prays for the other. 

The first says: “My problem is money. I love money too much and I often steal from offerings and tithes. Pray for me because I am not proud of it.”

Relaxed and at ease, the second says: “Mine is women. I love women too much and when I see a woman, I want to sleep with her. I have slept with all the women in my parish. Pray to help me.

The third starts crying. The other two take two hours to calm him down. Then he finally speaks in tears: “My problem is kpakpato. I don’t know how to keep a secret; so everything you just said, tomorrow everyone will know, even if you pray for me!


The original in French is found on Nouchi.com . Adapted and Translated to English by Dr. Y. Afrolegends.com

Unity during Religious Holidays


Very often, our differences are emphasized, rather than our similarities. For instance, our different religions, different political views, different races, different tribes, countries, etc, more emphasis is placed on what divides us, rather than on what unites us: humanity! We are all humans and neighbors on this big planet that is called Earth. In Senegal, Christians and Muslims reinforce their unity and solidarity during the Christian holiday of Easter with the “Ngalakh” dessert. In a country that is mostly Muslim (over 95%), the people of Christian faith share Ngalakh dessert for “Good Friday” with the rest of their community. The dessert has come to symbolize unity and solidarity between Muslims and Christians in Senegal; just like during Eid al-Adha or Ramadan, Muslim families share meat and couscous with their Christian neighbors. Enjoy and learn more about ways that unite us, rather than divide us. Excerpts below are from AfricaNews.


Flag of Senegal
Flag of Senegal

… In Senegal, where approximately 4 percent of the population is Christian, the feverish preparation that started before Easter to be celebrated on 9 April continues unabated. Christian families prepare a special dessert for “Good Friday”, which represents the end of the Great Lent (Careme) fast that the Christian community keeps during the Easter period and coincides with the Friday before Easter Sunday.

Ngalakh, the first flavour that comes to mind when Easter is mentioned in Senegal, is prepared with “thiakry”, a type of semolina commonly used in West Africa, baobab tree fruit, nutmeg, milk, sugar and peanut cream. Christian families gather early on Friday at the home of a family elder and cook enough Ngalakh for almost the entire neighbourhood. Ngalakh has a liquid consistency and is served with grated coconut, banana slices and raisins.

The young people of the house make a list of Muslim neighbours and acquaintances and distribute most of the dessert to them until Friday afternoon.

Ngalakh, an Easter tradition, is considered one of the symbols of unity and solidarity between Muslims and Christians in Senegal today.

… “This solidarity is unique to Senegal

… Coly [Adama Manga] said, “In Senegal, everyone respects each other’s religion, no one is in a competition of ‘my belief is superior to yours’. This is a secular country. We live here peacefully together with Christians as well as many sects.

Use of Old Laptop Batteries to Power Bikes?

Laptop battery (Source: Greencell.global)

Have you noticed how nothing lasts anymore? The quality of things has gone down, and the entire society seems to be on programmed obsolescence: even the quality of the roads, furniture, clothing, electronics, etc… everything is focused on profit, profit, profit, and very little on durability, or rather durability for just a few months, enough to buy the next product. We will talk about this programmed obsolescence another day. However, a Kenyan man has found use for old laptop batteries to power bikes. As we are pushed towards electric vehicles, his invention could enable a new way of thinking, focused on recycling and re-using what is readily available, as opposed to creating new waste. This article is not an endorsement of electric bikes, but rather a celebration of ingenuity and new ways of (re)using old things to make new ones. Excerpts below are from AfricaNews.


Paul Waweru is going shopping. He’s on the hunt for old laptop batteries. They cost him just KSH 50 ($0.50) per piece, but this Kenyan high school physics teacher has found an innovative use for the waste product.

They will power bikes. After he collects the items from dealers in Nairobi, he takes the haul back to his workshop. Here, he sorts them, dividing the working cells from those which are not working.

Waweru then assembles them into a battery that can be used to power electric motorbikes. He was inspired to come up with this innovation after running into trouble with a bike he’d bought.

… He’s founded a company called Ecomobilus to supply his laptop-battery powered bikes. He collects frames from old motorbikes, removes the engines and replaces them with a battery and a motor to propel the bike. They run on a 60 V direct current. The batteries take hours to charge but can take 45 minutes if on a fast charger. A fully charged battery can travel a distance of up to 100 kilometres. He says his invention compares very well to traditional motorbikes.

Ecomobilus bikes are more advantageous compared to other gasoline powered bikes. Number one, because of the cost of maintenance. Ecomobilus bikes require zero maintenance because there are no mechanical parts that need to be repaired every often, we give it at least two years for services because the engines are no longer there, we are dealing with motors,” he says.


Vatican rejects ‘Doctrine of Discovery’ used to Justify Colonial Quest and Theft of Land

Pope Nicholas V

A few years ago when we published Dum Diversas or The Vatican’s Authorization of Slavery, many were surprised if not astounded to know that the Catholic Church had authorized and condoned the enslavement of people around the world, the conquest of their lands, the placement of indigenous populations into perpetual servitude, and the genocidal eradication of non Christian populations around the globe. There are still many Catholics today who do not know this! We received quite a few harsh inbox messages about the veracity of our work. Imagine the confirmation we got when last Thursday, March 30, 2023, after decades of indigenous calls, the Vatican itself repudiated the ‘Doctrine of Discovery’ which justified colonialism. A Vatican statement said the papal bulls, or decrees, “did not adequately reflect the equal dignity and rights of Indigenous peoples” and “therefore [the Vatican] repudiates those concepts that fail to recognize the inherent human rights of Indigenous peoples, including what has become known as the legal and political ‘doctrine of discovery.'”

It is not clear what to make out of this “rejection of the ‘Doctrine of Discovery'” by the Vatican. Are we supposed to clap? After centuries of killings, conquistadors killings of indigenous people of Americas, eradication of entire populations, enslavement of African people, land grabs across the globe, resources grab, enrichment, etc. We all know the coffers of the Vatican and European nations are filled with the spoils of these conquests and that their cities and countries were built on the back of all these. We ask again, what are we supposed to do with this “rejection”? Is the Vatican giving back what they took? Will the lands be returned? Words again and again and again… no actions!

The New Scramble for Africa (Source: Source: Dr Jack & Curtis for City Press, National Institute African Studies (NIAS))

As said before, there are no coincidences. There is no coincidence that this comes less than 2 months after the Pope’s visit to Africa, which is said to be the future of the Catholic Church. It is no coincidence that it comes just a few days before the very important Christian celebration of Easter. Could this be linked to the New Scramble for Africa? This New Scramble for Africa needs to be done as before, under the veil of good intentions, purity, and supposed forgiveness; while the impoverished people get ‘honeyed’ out with the ‘rejection’ (just words), the resources get pumped out. Some also think that it is no coincidence that it comes under history’s first Latin American Pope. And You, what do you make of this ‘rejection of the Doctrine of Discovery’ by the Vatican? Excerpts below are from Common Dreams. Please also check out the article in Al Jazeera.


In a historic shift long sought by Indigenous-led activists, the Holy See on Thursday formally repudiated the doctrine of discovery, a dubious legal theory born from a series of 15th-century papal decrees used by colonizers including the United States to legally justify the genocidal conquest of non-Christian peoples and their land.

In a joint statement, the Vatican’s departments of culture and education declared that “the church acknowledges that these papal bulls did not adequately reflectthe equal dignity and rights of Indigenous peoples” and “therefore repudiates those concepts that fail to recognize the inherent human rights of Indigenous peoples, including what has become known as the legal and political ‘doctrine of discovery.'”

Slaves on board a ship

The church is also aware that the contents of these documents were manipulated for political purposes by competing colonial powers in order to justify immoral acts against Indigenous peoples that were carried out, at times, without opposition from ecclesiastical authorities,” the statement added. “It is only just to recognize these errors, acknowledge the terrible effects of the assimilation policies and the pain experienced by Indigenous peoples, and ask for pardon.”

Indigenous leaders—who for decades demanded the Vatican rescind the discovery doctrine—welcomed the move, while expressing hope that it brings real change.

On the surface it sounds good, it looks good… but there has to be a fundamental change in attitudes, behavior, laws, and policies from that statement,” Ernie Daniels, the former chief of Long Plain First Nation in Manitoba, Canada, toldCBC Thursday.

There’s still a mentality out there—they want to assimilate, decimate, terminate, eradicate Indigenous people,” added Daniels, who was part of a delegation that met with Pope Francis last year in Rome and Canada.

… Discovery doctrine is rooted in a trio of papal decrees issued in the second half of the 15th century authorizing the Portuguese and Spanish monarchies to conquer land and enslave people in Africa and the Americas if they were non-Christians and dividing the Americas between the two burgeoning empires.

‘Ils Sont Venus’ de François Sengat-Kuo / ‘They Came’ by François Sengat-Kuo

Le partage de l'Afrique a la Conference de Berlin de 1884
Le partage de l’Afrique à la Conférence de Berlin de 1884

As we talk about neo-colonialism, and the new scramble for Africa, I thought about sharing this poem ‘They Came‘ by Cameroonian writer François Sengat-Kuo published in Fleurs de Latérite, Heures Rouges Éditions Clé, 1971. I had previously shared this poem here.  In the poem, Sengat-Kuo talks about colonization and how Africans were fooled by European missionaries who were always preceding European explorers and armies.  I particularly like the sentence: “they came, … bible on hand, guns behind.” Jomo Kenyatta, first president of Kenya, said it slightly differently, “When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.” (Nobel Peace prize Laureate, Desmond Tutu, of South Africa, is said to have popularized the quote). How true! In the days of colonization, Europeans claimed to be bringing civilization and Christianity to pagans across the globe.  Today, they bring development, globalization, and democracy…  same ol’ thing → submission and slavery to the people.  Enjoy!

Ils sont venus

au clair de lune

au rythme du tam-tam

ce soir-là comme toujours

l’on dansait

l’on riait

brillant avenir

ils sont venus


bibles sous le bras

fusils en mains

les morts se sont entassés

l’on a pleuré

et le tam-tam s’est tu

silence profond comme la mort


They came

by the light of the moon

to the rhythm of the tam-tam

that night as always

we were dancing

we were laughing

brilliant future

they came


bibles under the arm

guns in hand

the dead bodies piled up

we cried

and the tam-tam was silenced

profound silence like death