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The 2nd Edition
An Introduction by
Robin Walker

Study Guide

africa5.jpg50 Greatest Africans - Pharaoh Taharqo & Yusuf ibn Tashifin

47. Pharaoh Taharqo of Kush (ruled 690-664 BC)
The most powerful African in history known as the Emperor of the World

Pharoah TaharqoTaharqo (also called Taharka) ruled Kush and Egypt from 690 until 664 BC. He inherited a huge empire from Qebh-Hor in Asia to the lands south of the Sudanese city of Napata. In addition, Erathosthenes claimed that he conquered a vast territory in North Africa and "penetrated into Europe as far as the 'Pillars of Hercules' (Gibraltar)." Corroborating this, Professor Ivan Van Sertima wrote that: "We [also] have a clear and indisputable reference to this in a [Spanish] manuscript by Florian de Ocampo Cronica General published in 1553. The name of the invading general is given as Tarraco [cf. Taharqo]. He is not only identified as head of the Ethiopian [i.e. Kushite] army. The reference is more specific. It says he was later to become King of Egypt. The name, the period, the historical fact of his generalship and his later kinship in Egypt … all attest to the validity of this reference."

Moreover, there is considerable evidence that the newly founded North African city of Carthage was part of his sphere of influence. Thus, his imperial activities give substance to his boast of being the "Emperor of the World". Of this great man, Professor Rawlinson wrote the following: "The reign of Tirhakah (Tehrak) [sic] during this period appears to have been glorious. He was regarded by Judea as its protector, and exercised a certain influence over all Syria as far as Taurus, Amanus, and the Euphrates. In Africa, he brought into subjection the native tribes of the north coast, carrying his arms, according to some, as far as the Pillars of Hercules. He is exhibited at Medinet-Abou in the dress of a warrior, smiting with a mace ten captive foreign princes. He erected monuments in the Egyptian style at Thebes, Memphis, and Napata. Of all the Ethiopian [i.e. Kushite] sovereigns of Egypt he was undoubtedly the greatest."

One authority described him as "a great builder approaching the scale of Rameses II". According to Vivian Davies and Renée Friedman, twho modern authorities: "Taharqo was a great builder, erecting temples, shrines and statues throughout the Nile Valley, and turning Gebel Barkal into an architectural showpiece, its central temple a southern version of Karnak in Thebes, though on a smaller scale. High up on the great pinnacle he had an inscription recording his dominance carved in hieroglyphs and sheathed in gold - to be visible far and wide, no doubt a spectacular sight as it glistened in the sun."
All of this information is extracted from When We Ruled. To find out more about this book CLICK HERE

48. Yusuf ibn Tashifin of the Almoravides (ruled c.1061-1106)
Founder of the Almoravid Dynasty that ruled in Africa and Spain

Yusuf Ibn TashifinSometime in the latter half of 1082 AD hundreds of Moors and Arabs streamed into Africa, fleeing the campaigns of the Christians. In the following year, Al-Mutammed, the governor of Seville, joined them. Visiting Yusuf, he begged him to assist the Muslims in Spain against the Christian onslaught. Yusuf responded. He raised an army that was said to have included every ethnic group in the western Sahara desert and sent them across the sea into Spain. Armed with Indian swords and mounted on camels, the African army faced the Christians at Zalakah in 1086. They triumphed and pushed the Christians out of southern Spain.

In time Yusuf's forces seized Seville and dethroned its Islamic rulers. Apparently they had become "sunk in pleasure and sloth". The Almoravid Empire had a court in Africa centred in Marrakech and a court in Spain centred in Seville. This, according to Lady Lugard, "established once more a supreme sultan upon the throne of Andalusia". Furthermore, Yusuf's conquest and "the dynasty which he founded must be regarded as an African conquest and an African dynasty". Incidentally, there is a "traditional" image of Yusuf that appears on the Catalan Atlas, a famous Spanish map of a slightly later period. Not only is he clearly depicted as a Negro but he is portrayed as darker in complexion than Mansa Musa, incongruously drawn on the same map. The territory ruled by the Almoravides in Africa and Spain was extensive. Under their sway were the lands of Senegal, Morocco, Algeria and Spain. It was a larger area than that of Western Europe. Thirteen kings acknowledged the overlordship of Yusuf.

In Africa Yusuf had great monuments built. Three great mosques date from his time, the mosque of Tlemcen, the mosque of Nedroma, and the mosque of Algiers. He also built an imposing stone fortress in Marrakech when other buildings at the time were of clay. Natascha Kubisch notes that: "[He] founded the city of Marrakech in 1062 and laid out the great palm grove, but then handed over the further developments of the city to his son. Marrakech remained the capital of the empire under the Almohads and is one of the four royal cities of Morocco, alongside Rabat, Fez and Meknes. It is still a fascinating city today because of its African character and its surviving medieval buildings."
All of this information is extracted from When We Ruled. To find out more about this book CLICK HERE

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Creation date : 18/04/2006 @ 17:36
Last update : 28/07/2014 @ 16:49
Category : 50 Greatest Africans

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African Rulers
50 Greatest Africans

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