H I S T O R Y   N O T E S






Melanesia (the Black islands of the South Pacific) has been described as the eastern flank of the African world, an expression of ages past when an uninterrupted belt of Black people stretched across Africa, Eurasia, Australia, Oceanica and ancient America. In 1545 Spain made a claim on New Guinea, the largest and most populous island in Melanesia. Indeed, New Guinea is the largest island in the world after Greenland.  It is tremendously wealthy in mineral resources, including uranium, copper cobalt, silver, gold, manganese, iron and oil.  in 1545 Spain made a claim on the island and called it Nueva Guinea because of the striking resemblance between Melanesians and West Africans.  Other Melanesian islands include New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, New Ireland and New Britain.

Split into two by colonial design, New Guinea has until recently contained a racially homogeneous population of five to six million Africoid people.  The eastern half of the island became independent in 1975 under the name of Papua New Guinea.  In a 1976 interview, Foreign Minister Ben Tanggahma of Papua New Guinea insisted that:

"Africa is our motherland.  All of the Black populations which settled in Asia over the hundreds of thousands of years, came undoubtedly from the African continent.  In fact, the entire world was populated from Africa.  Hence, we the Blacks in Asia and the Pacific today descend from proto-African peoples.  We were linked to Africa in the past. We are linked to Africa in the present.  We will be linked to Africa in the future."

The western half of New Guinea, however, along with a significant portion of the island's total population, has been seized by Indonesia. Indonesians generally have a condescending view of Melanesians and consider them their racial inferiors.  Under Indonesian rule since 1963, the Melanesians of New Guinea, known as Kanaks, want their island to become an independent country run by and for Melanesians.  Their struggle continues.

The Global African Community, By Runoko Rashidi

Runoko Rashidi is an historian, writer and public lecturer with a pronounced interest in the African foundations of humanity and civilizations and the presence and current conditions of Black people throughout the Global African Community.  He is particularly drawn to the African presence in India, Australia and the islands of the Pacific.

To date he has lectured at more than 100 colleges and universities and lectured in fifteen countries.  He is the author of African Classical Civilizations and the editor, with Dr. Ivan Van Sertima, of the African Presence in Early Asia--the most comprehensive volume on the subject yet published. Rashidi is very active online, and recently coordinated an historic educational tour to India entitled "Looking at India through African Eyes." Currently, he is coordinating an educational tour to Australia entitled "Looking at Australia Through African Eyes" scheduled for July 2000.

To schedule lectures, order video and audio tapes, gain information on educational tours or additional information contact Rashidi at or call Runoko Rashidi at (210) 648-5178.

Copyright 1998 Runoko Rashidi. All rights reserved.
Revised: November 19, 1999.
Webpage design: Kenneth Ritchards