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By analogy, it's also useful to divide classical music into periods like "baroque," "classical," and "romantic," even though each period is diverse and shades into other periods.

By the time European colonialists arrived, most of Africa's major population movements had already taken place (see map on next page).

No other continent even approaches this human diversity, and no other continent can rival Africa in the complexity of its human past.

The diversity of Africa's peoples results from its diverse geography and long prehistory.

These people were no longer pictures in a textbook; they were living humans, right in front of me.

But what most surprised me was a street sign on one of downtown Windhoek's main roads. Surely, I thought, no country could be so dominated by unrepentant Nazis that it would name a street after Hermann Goering, the notorious head of the Luftwaffe.

Most Americans think of native Africans as black and of white Africans as recent intruders; and when they think of Africa's racial history they think of European colonialism and slave trading.

Why did blacks come to be so widespread, instead of one or more of the four other groups whose existence Americans tend to forget?They were mostly farmers or herders, as were the native African whites, who occupied Africa's northern coastal zone and the northern Sahara.(Few of those northern Africans--the Egyptians, Libyans, and Moroccans, for instance-- would be confused with a blond, blue-eyed Swede, but they're often considered white because they have lighter skin and straighter hair than the peoples to the south.) At the same time, the Pygmies were already living in groups widely scattered through the central African rain forest.By examining these clues one at a time and then combining all of them, we can begin to reconstruct who moved where at what time in Africa, and what let them move--with enormous consequences for the modern continent.As I mentioned, the africa encountered by the first European explorers in the fifteenth century was already home to five human races: blacks, whites, Pygmies, Khoisan, and Asians.

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