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AMAZING HISTORICAL SITES IN AFRICA - PART 4
10. Rock-hewn churches of Lalībela
in north-central Ethiopia,
is famous for its rock-hewn churches, which date back to the late 12th and
early 13th centuries. The 11 churches, important in Ethiopian Christian
tradition, were built during the reign of the Emperor Lalībela. The churches
are arranged in two main groups, connected by subterranean passageways. Notable
among the 11 churches are House of Medhane Alem (“Saviour of the World”), the
largest church; House of Golgotha, which contains Lalībela’s tomb; and House of
Mariam, which is noted for its frescoes. Centuries after they were built, the
churches still draw thousands of pilgrims around important holy days.
11. Beit al-Ajaib Museum, Zanzibar
The Beit al-Ajaib, also known as the House of Wonders, is one of Zanzibar’s best known historical landmarks located at the waterfront area of Zanzibar Town. The palace was built in 1883 for Sultan Barghash on the site of an older palace used by Queen Fatuma, the Mwinyi Mkuu (ruler of Zanzibar) in the 17th century. It was the first building on Zanzibar to be installed with electric lighting, and one of the first in east Africa to have an electric lift, earning the ‘house of wonders’ name by the locals. Since then, it has survived destruction from bombardment in the 1800s due to a failed political coup and was used by the British and the Tanzanian government as political headquarters. It has since been converted into a museum, where visitors learn about Zanzibar’s rich history and culture as well as about the history of the entire Swahili Coast, which extends from Southern Somalia to Northern Mozambique. Entrance into the museum costs $3 and photography inside the museum is permitted. Visitations can be booked through a travel agency.
12. Leptis Magna - Libya
The city was founded by the Phoenicians in 7th Century BC, but was later expanded under the Roman Empire’s control. The site was majorly excavated by the Italians in the 1930’s and, it is the Roman architecture and influence that we can still see prominently in the ruins of this abandoned city. As can be expected from former Roman settlements, there are the classic amphitheatres, mosaics and bath houses. Conflicts in Libya have halted tourists interest, but hopefully when the country becomes a less high risk location it will bloom into being the tourist hot spot it deserves.
MILITARY COUPS IN AFRICA
is not the only space in the world where coups have happened. But Africa is
currently home to the highest number of countries with recent military coups
and takeovers. While the rest of the world is aiming for advancement and
development, Africa is battling recurrent news of military coups and takeovers.
There is something fundamentally wrong on the continent. While it is not out of
place to blame the role colonisation — and its resultant mambo-jumbling of
people of differing races, cultures, and approaches — has played in the
disruption of the continent, it is important to note that Africa is not the
only home of former colonies. India has never for once experienced a military
coup. That is not to say India is perfect, but India is growing, evolving and
attempts were frequent in Africa in the post-independence and Cold War periods.
comparison, the past 20 or so years have been quiet. From 2011 through 2020,
the continent averaged fewer than one completed coup per year. But since then,
the relative stability has given way to what looks like a sharp reemergence of
January 1, 2020, through December 2022, there were a dozen coup attempts on the
continent. Of those, six resulted in an unconstitutional change in government
at the hands of military officers.
With coups rampant throughout the continent since
2011, the Union has lost its grip on peace. Actors both local and international
have exerted their influence over these coups. Examples are the events in
Libya, Egypt and Tunisia in 2011, Burkina Faso in 2014 and 2022, Zimbabwe in
2017, Algeria and Sudan in 2019, Mali in 2020 and 2021, Guinea in 2021, Niger
in 2023 and Gabon in 2023.
Unfortunately, the governments that follow these
coups have failed to address the circumstances that caused them. This, of
course, leads to further coups. Succeeding regimes entrench themselves in power
by corruption and by marginalising their political adversaries. Eventually,
rising mass poverty provokes deep political disgruntlement. Political
instability triggers a coup — and so the cycle continues.
Foreign influence from the likes of France and the US play a significant role in the instability in West Africa and the Sahel. Africa has hosted foreign military personnel for decades. At least 13 countries, including the US, France, UK, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Japan, and India, have a military presence.