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Historian John A. Williams wrote, “All at the same time, Africa is wealth and poverty, beauty and ugliness, hope and despair. Africa is the past and the future.”
Many anthropologists believe the key to humans’ origin lies somewhere in Africa. Countless anthropologists have tried to uncover it -- some more successful than others. One landmark discovery was in 1959, when archaeologist Mary Leakey excavated the remains of a pre-human ancestor that predated any previously found. Prior to that, many scientists assumed Asia was the cradle of man. But after Leakey’s momentous findings, all eyes turned to Africa.
Africa is three times the size of the United States and the second largest continent in the world, after Asia. Her history stretches across millions of years. She’s a patchwork of nations, all boasting great accomplishments. Take one of the world’s oldest civilizations, Egypt, in northeast Africa near the Red Sea. Here, people claim that their first pharaoh, Narmer, 5,000 years ago founded the world’s first nation-state and the world’s first written script. True or not, this Arab nation, along the world’s longest river, the Nile, inherited a towering legacy: the majestic Pyramids at Giza.
Africa’s history simmers with tragedies and triumphs. One of the greatest biblical tales was born here -- Moses and the Israelites’ exodus. Africa was the source of Atlantic slave trade, which started in the mid-15th century when the Portuguese began importing human commodities. African scholars refer to this 500-year era as “The Maafa,” which means tragedy in Swahili.
Intrigues and discords have shaped this continent, along with riches and wonders. Africa possesses the world’s largest diamond reserves, but her true beauty is not reflected in the facets of cut stones. To find it, simply gaze into the eyes of her people, or venture into the Sahara desert by jeep to catch sight of a camel caravan silently moving across the rippling dunes. After thousands of years, this form of travel remains intact, as have many traditions, relics and monuments. That’s part of the thrill of cruising and exploring the coasts of Africa. Visitors may find themselves walking in the footsteps of kings and queens, tribal leaders and shamans.