Water supply and aqueducts

Jan 2018
39
Yopaw
#1
What is the history of water supply and sanitation in Sub-Saharan Africa? Did they have aqueducts? I know that Southern Africa had aqueducts as found in Nyanga in Zimbabwe :

In 1905 Hall explained:

One of the most extraordinary features of the Inyanga Range is the vast number
of old aqueducts, some two miles (3,2 km) or more in length, running from
artificial dams on the mountain streams, and crossing from hill to hill in a most
remarkable manner… The hardest material pierced in their construction appears
to have been shale or clay stone. They (the furrows) are all about 16 to 24 inches
(40-60cm) wide, and are about 2 feet (60cm) in depth. They have no paving or
built areas.

RN Hall, “Stone fort and pits in the Inyanga Estate, Rhodesia” in The Journal of the
Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 35, January-June 1905, p. 102.
Who constructed the aqueducts of Nyanga?

I would like to know about West Africa, did they have aqueducts or other forms of water supply?
 
Jan 2018
39
Yopaw
#2
Jan 2018
39
Yopaw
#3
Dapper adds that wealthy residents kept these walls “as shiny and smooth by washing and rubbing as any wall in Holland can be made with chalk, and they are like mirrors. The upper storeys are made of the same sort of clay. Moreover, every house is provided with a well for the supply of fresh water”.
The houses of Benin chiefs are planned such that rooms are arranged around series of internal courtyards as shown in fig 6, leading one into the other like the Classical Roman house with its sequence of atria (Ekhaese, 2011). The roof over the courtyards admit light and air, while immediately below it, is a sunken impluvium floor with an outlet to drain storm water.
From Home Owners Perspective, ?<i>Ikun</i> Concept<i>?</i> of Design in Benin, Nigeria: Some Like It Some Don?t
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,516
Benin City, Nigeria
#4
1. Regarding sanitation, in Asante, they had toilets, in addition to some public bathrooms.

". . .every house had its cloacae, besides the common ones for the lower orders without the town. They were generally situated under a small arch way in the most retired angle of the building, but not unfrequently up stairs, within a separate room like a small closet, where the large hollow pillar also assists to support the upper story : the holes are of a small circumference, but dug to a surprising depth, and boiling water is daily poured down, which effectually prevents the least offence. The rubbish and offal of each house was burnt every morning at the back of the street, and they were as nice and cleanly in their dwellings as in their persons." - Thomas E. Bowdich, Mission from Cape Coast Castle to Ashantee (1819), p. 306

2. I mentioned a detail about irrigation in Bornu in another thread:

http://historum.com/middle-eastern-...uins-thread-41.html#post2701783?postcount=407

3. Another poster mentioned some irrigation in west Africa in this thread:

http://historum.com/middle-eastern-african-history/81614-pre-colonial-african-agriculture.html

4. Leo Africanus states that water reached Timbuktu by "canals":

"There are several sweet water wells in Timbuktu. In addition, during the flood season of the Niger, water reaches the town by canals." - Leo Africanus, Description of Africa

https://books.google.com/books?id=kdEsWyzLnD8C&pg=PA280#v=onepage&q&f=false

No details about these canals are given.

5. Sonni Ali Ber of Songhai did widen a port called Kabara near Timbuktu. However, he failed to actually complete the much larger project he had initiated (a two hundred mile canal from a lake near the Niger river to the city of Walata). The uncompleted canal project is mentioned in these sources, among others:

https://books.google.com/books?id=3C2tzBSAp3MC&pg=PA226

https://books.google.com/books?id=nAsWQqy_fXwC&pg=PA44

That unfinished canal project is also mentioned in the book African Dominion: A New History of Empire in Early and Medieval West Africa (2018) by Michael Gomez.

Gomez's book is pretty interesting, by the way.

An article that both Gomez's book and Hunwick's book, Timbuktu and the Songhay Empire. Al-Sa'd&#299;'s Ta'r&#299;kh Al-s&#363;d&#257;n down to 1613 and other Contemporary Documents, cite is:

G. Palausi - 'Un projet d'hydraulique fluviale soudanaise au XVe siecle, le canal de Soni-Ali' (1958)

I haven't read that article though.

The original mention of the canal project can be read in Hunwick's translation of the Tarikh al-Sudan here:

https://books.google.com/books?id=kdEsWyzLnD8C&pg=PA99#v=onepage&q&f=false
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,516
Benin City, Nigeria
#5
Djenne also had a drainage system apparently :
https://books.google.tg/books?id=0o...Q6AEIQTAF#v=onepage&q=drainage system&f=false

But the source is an Afrocentrist prof. called "Robin Walker", so I'm skeptic about it.
Drainpipes that were found at Jenne-Jeno and other places in the western Sudan are mentioned in these sources, among others:

https://books.google.com/books?id=DhiPUvi1ylYC&pg=PA368#v=onepage&q&f=false

http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/1444342/1/U591645.pdf

I think by "drainage system" he might have been referring to the drainpipes on buildings that were used to direct rainwater from the roofs and away from the walls of some buildings. Maybe he read about the drainpipes found at Jenne-Jeno and assumed they would naturally also have been present in Jenne.

But such drainpipes were used in multiple places in the Sahel, not just one city, so I'm not sure why they would be mentioned in connection with one particular city as if they were something unique if that is really what he had in mind.

I haven't looked into the issue of water supply in precolonial Africa too deeply, so there is probably more information beyond what I've mentioned above, but what I've mentioned is what I know about or can recall right now.
 
Mar 2012
337
#6
Its amazing to think how Africa might have turned out had Empires like the Benin, Asante and Congo etc had been allowed to flourish and spread without being interrupted like the Empires in Mesopotamia and Central America

I seriously think Benin would have morphed into the Central African version of Sumer or Persia. Their Art, Architecture and culture was highly sophisticated for its day...
 
Feb 2018
26
Juno Beach, Fl
#7
Pre-Colonial..
When Marco Polo came upon China (app 1300) he found, Silk, Porcelain, Astronomical records, a Civil service system, etc.

While even in 1900 sub-Saharans basically lived as they had 60,000 years earlier, when others left and became more advanced.
Many still do.
Hunter-gatherers.

2000 years ago Rome had Aqueducts and built a luxurious city (cities) with water for drinking, bathing, irrigating, despite arid conditions.

Meanwhile and until THIS century we hear/heard about "Droughts" Often despite Plentiful water in Africa.
ie
Water-rich Ethiopia is just STARTING to irrigate now!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethiopia#Economy

Economy

In spite of fast growth in recent years, GDP per capita is one of the Lowest in the world, and the economy faces a number of serious structural problems. However, with a focused investment in public infrastructure and industrial parks, Ethiopia's economy is addressing its structural problems to become a hub for light manufacturing in Africa.[130] Agricultural productivity remains low, and frequent Droughts still beset the country.[131]

"Ethiopia is often Ironically referred to as the 'Water Tower' of Eastern Africa because of the many (14 majors) rivers that pour off the high tableland", including the Nile. "It also has the Greatest Water reserves in Africa, but few irrigation systems in place to use it.
Just 1% is used for power production and 1.5% for irrigation.
"[132] In recent years, however, Ethiopia has completed several major dams[133] for hydroelectricity production and irrigation. Ethiopia, despite Egypt's initial protest, is also in the process of constructing a 6000 MW and Africa's largest hydroelectric dam ( GERD dam) on the Nile river.[134]..."&#8203;​
 
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Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,516
Benin City, Nigeria
#8
Irrigation in Ethiopia dates back to the time of Axum. So thousands of years. There was a decline in irrigation practices in the area in the 20th century. The place was extensively irrigated previously.

You basically have it completely backward:

https://books.google.com/books?id=c...Q6AEIJTAA#v=onepage&q=axum irrigation&f=false

The Italian peninsula and western Europe in general does not have "arid conditions".

As for the rest. . .not even worth replying.
 
Feb 2018
26
Juno Beach, Fl
#9
Irrigation in Ethiopia dates back to the time of Axum. So thousands of years. There was a decline in irrigation practices in the area in the 20th century. The place was extensively irrigated previously.

You basically have it completely backward:

https://books.google.com/books?id=c...Q6AEIJTAA#v=onepage&q=axum irrigation&f=false

The Italian peninsula and western Europe in general does not have "arid conditions".

As for the rest. . .not even worth replying.
I presented the picture NOW, and looking back as far as one can see.
There is no debate and no excuse for the ongoing/regular droughts in Ethiopia (and others) except backwardness.

As For the rest you say "isn't worth replying to"...
Clearly this is a Cop out, as I presented the undebatable big picture showing the Incredible Backwardness of sub-Sahara relative to Europe and Asia, even pre-colonially.
sub-Saharans were still 98% Hunter-gatherers thousands of Years after Rome and the Chinese Civil Servce system.
They lived in 1900 app the same a they did 60,000 years ago.
Hunter gatherers in huts.

There can be no answer. It's a Fact.
So you disingenuously tried dismissal.
You got Busted.
`
 
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Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,516
Benin City, Nigeria
#10
As I said, there was a decline in 20th century. That happens sometimes. Regardless, the notion that they "are just now beginning to irrigate" is demonstrably false.



I didn't decline to respond to the rest of your post as a "cop-out", I'm just tired of addressing the same stuff over and over again on here. It's a waste of time.

I can only do so much, but I'm really not on here to use my time to help everyone work out their issues with their personal demons.
 
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