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Home >> Politics
Towards A Strategic Geopolitic Vision of Afro-Arab Relations

Professor Kwesi Prah


I have decided to put down on paper the gist of my thinking on the above matter, in order to avoid possible misconstruction of my viewpoint. Afro-Arab relations are matters of the most serious order in a rapidly globalizing world in which we all must learn to live cheek to jowl. This point is particularly underscored by the fact that the two peoples, Arabs and Africans, are immediate neighbours on this planet. They are the main cultural and national groups on the continent, with relations, which did not originate today or yesterday, but rather date from antiquity. Because our relationship dates from the depths of time, it is important to understand that its present status is a historical product, and cannot be properly understood or adequately discussed without an appreciation of where we are coming from. We need to learn from this history in order to construct a better future. Indeed, we cannot construct a future without reference to the past. Furthermore, what we learn from the past is not always complimentary and may throw up painful and difficult lessons which some might like or prefer to forget. But if progress is to be made, then we should be prepared to face the truth however trying and ugly it may be. Africans have tended to be rather squeamish about articulating their misgivings, doubts and objections about Afro-Arab relations on the continent. There tends to be even silence about the history of Arab-led slavery on this continent.  What is the nature of this past in Afro-Arab relations? What are the positive and negative aspects of this history? What features of this past are clearly discernible in the present? How do we build a future free from the limitations of the past? These are some of the issues I want to raise here.
The Arab conquest of North Africa and the Arabization of the area started in the 7th

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century AD.(1) Until the mid-7th century, North Africa west of Egypt was under Byzantine control. Egypt, was conquered between 640 and 645 AD. Arabs soon pushed west in the direction of the area they called the Maghrib (West). This area includes much of present-day Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. The Arabs succeeded in temporarily driving the Byzantine overlords out of Tripoli in 645 AD, but this was neither immediately consolidated nor quickly followed up with permanent presence in the area. In 661 AD, when the new Umayyad dynasty inaugurated its rule, a new period of Muslim expansion commenced. A campaign to conquer North Africa began in 663 AD, and the Arabs were soon in control of most of the major cities in Libya. Tripoli fell again in 666 AD, and this time the Muslims ensured their control of their new lands by not immediately retreating to Egypt after the conquest. By 670 AD, the Arabs had taken Tunisia, and by 675 AD, they had completed construction of Kairouan, the city that would become the premier Arab base in North Africa. Kairouan was later to become the third holiest city in Islam in the medieval period, after Mecca and Medina. From Kairouan, the Arabs turned to Carthage, north of Kairouan. Carthage was first raided in 678 AD. By 695 AD, Carthage had been taken. With the defeat of the Byzantine Empire, attention was turned to the Islamic conversion of the Berbers. By the early 8th century, the Arab armies included 12,000 Berbers. Ultimately, Berber coercion and cooperation was crucial for the expansion of the empire to the Atlantic. In 710, Tangier was taken under the command of a Berber, Tariq, at the head of the Arab army. Tariq led the army into Spain in 711. It is in the light of this early history of conquest and imperialism that the process of Islamization and Arabization, and its movement southwards has to be seen.  Till today, cultural freedom, particularly linguistic rights are demanded by some Berber groups in the region.

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View Comments
Date:May 08, 2012
Simply wish to say your article is as oduatnsing. The clearness in your post is just excellent and i can assume you are an expert on this subject. Fine with your permission let me to grab your feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please continue the gratifying work.

Date:Sep 10, 2011
I rlealy couldn't ask for more from this article.

Benjamin aciec garang
Date:May 18, 2010
Iwant to know the advantage and disadvantages of Afro Arab Relations with Africans

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