Hannibal of Carthage was one of the baddest Black men to come out of Africa. His military conquests are still the stuff of legend more than 2,000 years later. Most Black men and women have never heard of Hannibal, and those who have do not realize that he was as Black as the soil of the Nile.
While others mentally masturbate over movies like 300 and Troy, the story of one of the most epic military geniuses of all times goes untold. Until now.
The African Kingdom of Carthage
The city-state of Carthage was founded on the North African coast in 814 BC by a mixed population of the survivors of the Saharan ecological collapse and the Nubians (meaning the people of Carthage were Black). Anthropologists argue that the people of Carthage were actually Phonecians, but genetic evidence suggests otherwise. The Carthaginians were no more Phonecian than the Ancient Egyptians were Arab.
The Kingdom was a matriarchal one – meaning women held authority. The Carthaginian Republic grew to become the longest-lived and largest state in the ancient Mediterranean. By 600 B.C., Carthage had become self-governing, reached the height of its power, and was a Mediterranean powerhouse. The land was rich in gold, ivory, and salt, and the people of Carthage were skilled shipbuilders, tradesmen, and merchants who knew commerce.
Greece and Rome, greedy for control of Carthage’s resources and trade routes, constantly struggled with Carthage over territory. Although the Carthaginians refused to enter armed conflict and insisted on an agreement with the Greeks, the Greeks ignored the truce and invaded Carthage in a sneak attack around 310 B.C.
To regain their sovereignty, Carthage fought four brutal wars against Greece and Rome – driving out the Greeks in the first war in 306 B.C. The Romans stepped in to pick up where Greece left off in 264 B.C. – launching three “Punic Wars” against Carthage. Like most wars, White powers hungry for natural resources and riches unleashed atrocities against Black men that where unprecedented. The defeat of Carthage in the First Punic War gave Rome complete control of the Mediterranean sea.
It was in response to this white aggression that one of the baddest Black men to ever live rose up to bring Rome to the brink of destruction. n an age where wars and conflicts lasted decades, Hannibal’s army had all but annihilated Rome in only 2 short years after beginning his campaign. His was one of the most epic military campaigns ever launched, and was so intelligently executed that tacticians still study his technical and tactical proficiency.
Hannibal’s father, Hamilcar Barca, was the leading Carthaginian commander and his brothers were all commanders during the during the First Punic War. Hannibal was determined to succeed where they had failed with a superior military strategy.
Hannibal’s Military Strategy
“I swear so soon as age will permit…I will use fire and steel to arrest the destiny of Rome.” – Hannibal
While preparing for war, Hannibal developed a strategy based on the fact that Rome had complete control of the oceans. This meant instead of being able to take ships straight across the Mediterranean and attack Rome from the East, he would have to take his troops along the most difficult and unsuspected route; through France (Gaul) over the Alps and attack Rome from the North. Since the Romans believed the Alps were impossible to pass an army through, they would be taken completely by surprise.
The only animals capable of surviving the journey was the African elephant, and so with 40,000 foot soldiers, 5,000 war elephants, and 12,000 horsemen Hannibal made the trek. To keep his army together through what was to be a miserable march into Rome, Hannibal ruthlessly exploited the strengths, weaknesses, and self interests of the men that he led; at times promising the riches of Italy to one group, and at other times promising death for failure to another group. His psychological strategy worked – a year after starting out, Hannibal had lost more than half his men during the march, but still managed to surprise and defeat a well fed, well organized Roman infantry at the Battle of Trebbia in Northern Rome.
Hannibal didn’t let time or his laziness get the best of him; he quickly moved to Cannae, where he surprised the Romans yet again, and turned the strength of the Roman battle formation into a weakness using an envelopment tactic. He encircled the square unit which eliminated the Roman numerical advantage by shrinking the surface area where combat could occur. In other words, the men inside the square could do nothing while the men on the outer sides had to fight off attacks.
Whenever the square formation would try to charge through one side of the circle, Hannibal’s troops would move, open up, and encircle them once again. As a result, even though Hannibal’s force was inferior to that of his foe, he won. Hannibal’s army managed to surround and kill or capture nearly 70,000 Romans.
In battle after battle, Hannibal defeated a much larger and more sophisticated military by understanding the strengths, weaknesses, and the environment of all the parties involved. He knew the minds and hearts of the people he fought for, with, and against.
Hannibal’s vision of military affairs, derived from experience gained alongside his father, stretched over most of the Greco-Roman world of his time. His vision gave rise to his grand strategy of conquering Rome by opening a northern front and subduing allied city-states on the peninsula rather than by attacking Rome directly – a kind of proxy war. The alpine invasion of Italy was a military operation that would shake the Mediterranean World of 218 BC with repercussions for more than two decades. It was a world war in the sense that it involved about three-quarters of the population of the entire Punic-Greco-Roman world and few people living in the Mediterranean were able to escape it. Virtually every family in Rome lost a member or members in the swath of destruction brought down on them by Hannibal and his Carthaginian armies.
Rome took a page from Hannibal’s playbook and invaded Carthage in 203 BC. The action placed Hannibal’s homeland in dire threat, and he was recalled from Rome to ward off the new threat. His arrival immediately restored the dominance of Carthage’s national guard, which placed him in command. The war was so savage and both sides so decimated that by 202 BC, both sides were suing for peace. Negotiations were shaky due to Roman allegations of “Punic Faith,” referring to the war-like nature of the North Africans. (Remember, Greece and Rome attacked CARTHAGE first.)
Rome and Carthage worked out a peace plan whereby Carthage could keep its African territory but would lose its overseas empire. Also, Carthage was to reduce its fleet and pay a war restitution to Rome. But when Carthage captured a stranded Roman fleet in the Gulf of Tunes and stripped it of supplies, negotiations fell apart. Rumors had it that the Romans actually set up the stranded fleet to provoke the Carthaginians. Fearing that war was about to pop off again, Hannibal returned to Rome with his army. The decisive battle at Zama soon followed, and Hannibal was finally defeated.
Hannibal is Defeated
Once Hannibal had been defeated, Rome totally invaded Carthage – Rome decided that a military victory wasn’t crushing enough. It pronounced a curse on the ancient city, and dispatched mercenaries to kill every man, woman, and child within the city walls. Priests sprinkled salt over the fertile Carthaginian soil so that no plant would grow, and no animal could drink the ground water. The Romans completely destroyed the culture, writings, and technology of Carthage, leaving behind nothing but ashes and sand. To this date, very few artifacts have survived, including the coins below.
According to scholar Cheik Anta Diop, the Romans gave themselves permission to commit atrocities with propaganda. The destroyed people deserved their fate because they where impious, sinister, lustful, and incapable of promoting progress. Romans were encouraged to forget Carthage, and later generations were taught that the Carthaginians – not the Romans – were the real savages. By twisting the story around, Rome could go on with a clear conscience
The brutal destruction of the entire ethnic group that was Carthage would be the first in a long line of white genocides unleashed on the Black world.