Hannibal, the African nemesis of the Roman Empire

2200 years ago, this Carthaginian Black man wrote one of the greatest military epics in the history of humanity…

Chenu Bechola Barca aka Hannibal
Realistic and successful illustration by Charles Lilly

“Over the glimmering embers a mighty head was bowed. The red glow from the fire lighted a dark-skinned face, whose features blended something of the savagery and grandeur of a lion’s head.” Swords against Carthage, Friedrich Donavuer, page 134; 1932.

Beforehand, readers may research on the black features of the Phoenicians, of their Carthaginian descendants and of Hannibal himself to be able to grasp the essence of this article.

In 3422 of the African era (-814), it is led by Queen Dido-Elissar that the primordial Blacks of the Middle East (Phoenicians) founded the brilliant civilization of Carthage in present-day Tunisia. Through their strong commercial activity, the Carthaginians conquered the Maghreb and Libya, southern Spain, as well as Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica and the Balearic Islands. The relations between the Republic of Carthage and the Roman Empire are generally peaceful before the escalation towards a conflict that would begin in -264.

At the origins of Carthaginian-Roman conflict

In -281, Italian mercenaries took the port of Messana in Sicily near mainland Italy. They managed to assert their authority thanks to the military support of the Carthaginians who occupied the greater part of Sicily. Refusing then the African authority, the mercenaries called upon Rome to help dislodge Carthage from Messana. Rome, unwilling to see the Carthaginian influence so close to its territory, decided to answer the call, with the objective of taking back the whole Sicily.

The possessions of Carthage and Rome on the eve of the first Punic war
Source : Dickinson College

This was the beginning of the first Punic war that would last 23 years, which took place on 2 continents, made hundreds of thousands of deaths, decimated militarily and economically Carthage, and saw the defeated African republic lose Sicily, Sardinia, the Corsica, and pay reparations to Rome.

It is in this context of defeats that General Hamilcar Barca restored a bit of honor by conquering the north-east of Spain. Barca is behind the name of the city of Barcelona. The Barca family – descended from Queen Dido-Elissar – imposed thanks to its military prowess, its influence on Carthage. Hamilcar, bruised by this lost war, made his son Hannibal swear, during a ritual sacrificing an animal, to consider Rome as an eternal enemy and to annihilate the European empire one day.

The emergence of Hannibal

Born in -247, Chenu Bechola Barca already used to accompany his father Hamilcar on the battlefields as a child. His name Hannibaal means “he who has the favour of Baal (God)”. At 25, he took the family patriotic torch on the death of his brother-in-law Hadrusbal the Fair.

Against the advice of the Carthaginian authorities, Hannibal attacked Saguntum, an ally of Rome. The empire reacted strongly by sending a delegation to intimidate Carthage once again economically stable. The Carthaginian senators in their magnificent palace refused to publicly reject the act of Hannibal. This was the beginning of the second Punic War.

The African lightning that crossed Europe

With an army of 15,000 men including nearly 13,000 Blacks, Hannibal defeated the hostile tribes one by one and arrived at the Franco-Spanish border. In front of him stood the Pyrenees massif. 7000 men exhausted by the task desert the ranks, the African general crossed the mountains and reached the Rhone. He crossed the river with his little elephants from Africa and India without losing one. The news of the crossing of this difficult terrain iced the Roman authorities with disbelief. Hannibal continued his irresistible advance thanks to the thousands of new men who have joined his army.

He arrived at the foot of the Alps and climbed the mountain range. His men were dying by thousands, falling into ravines, killed by hostile tribes, by the cold in this winter season. With incredible courage, 22,000 men amongst which 12,000 Africans, still managed to reach Italy after 15 days of alpine hell. The Franco-Italian massif costed the African General half of his troops.

Battles against the Romans

The Italian general Scipio knows the gigantic damage caused by the Alps to the troops of Hannibal. So, it is with confidence that he waited with his great army for the first battle. Scipio was defeated and had to be exfiltrated by his son to escape death. Hannibal continued his inexorable advance. General Simpronius was waiting for him.

The Carthaginians attacked the Roman troops by surprise and pretended to be defeated and run away. Simpronius and his boiling temper known from Hannibal pursued the Carthaginians and fell in an ambush. The ill-prepared Romans were encircled. The African hell in the European cold is unleashed on them. Hannibal’s elephants behaved like lions, the killings were horrible, those who managed to escape were victims of the cold. The victory of Lake Trebbia resounded like a thunderclap in Rome.

Carthaginian coin commemorating the victory at Lake Trasimeno. This is Hannibal on this piece. This is the only authentic image of him
Source: Great Black Leaders, Ivan Van Sertima, page 317

60,000 Gaulics joined the army of Hannibal, subjugated by his military genius. He crossed the swamps and got an infection in the eye, what caused him to lose sight partially. He was waiting for the new elected general Flaminius in a trap. He has hidden some of his troops on the sides and faced the Romans who charged. Carthaginian troops appeared and encircled them. 50,000 Romans were slaughtered in few hours, Flaminius was killed. It was a carnage. The road to Rome was then open. It was a widespread panic.

The Romans prayed incessantly, destroyed their bridges, burnt their fields, took shelter in wooden fortifications. Faced with Roman authorities hesitant to attack, Hannibal conquered city after city. The Romans encircled him in Capua. He ordered to attach wood to the horns of 2000 cows and in the middle of the night, set fire on these wood pieces. The cows frightened ran in one direction, making the Romans believe – seeing fire in motion – that the Carthaginians were running away. They pursued them, abandoning a control post in the city by which Hannibal and his men escaped. Rome is enraged at this new setback.

The Romans finally decided to confront the Africans in Cannae. 80,000 Romans faced the 40,000 men of Hannibal’s army. The battle began, and the Carthaginians managed to sink the Romans to the middle. It is encirclement and butchery. 70,000 Romans were killed against 6,000 Carthaginians and allies. As always, Hannibal offered dignified burials to the corpse of high-ranking enemies. Relative and very African humanity which characterizes him in all circumstances, astonished. In the city of Rome, it is the feeling of the end of the world that is so imminent that the government prohibited incessant tears.

A certain status quo settled for 15 years with minor battles. Hannibal took control of many ports and sent his brother Mago to inform Carthage of his victories. Carthage refused to send sufficient help to attack the city of Rome in spite of Hannibal begging.

Illustration of the Roman army during the Battle of Cannae
The 8 legions were decimated by Hannibal’s armies

The reconquest of the Romans

Scipio, son of General Scipio, who had exfiltrated his father, attacked the Carthaginians’ rear possessions in Spain and began to bend the republic. Hannibal’s brothers Mago and Hanno Barca died during the fighting against the Romans. Carthage suffered defeats and Hannibal left Italy economically devastated to return to protect his country. After the failure of the negotiations with Scipio, the decisive battle started in Zama. The Carthaginians lost it. This was the end of the second Punic War. Carthage capitulated and suffered sanctions.

Scipio Africanus
Contrary to what is often said, it is not he who is at the origin of the word Africa. He received the name Africanus due to his conquests in Africa.

Hannibal became Head of Republic and restored Carthage’s economy to the extent of increasing the Romans’ worries. His presence made the senators, who were fearing retaliation, anxious. Hannibal was forced to flee.

The end of Hannibal and Carthage

The Regent left for exile in Tire, Lebanon, the home country of the Phoenicians. He plotted to overthrow Rome again without success. Tracked, he went to Armenia where he founded a city, then in Crete where tired of his life of fugitive, he committed suicide by poisoning. He was 64 years old.

The renewed economic power of Carthage and the omnipresent memory of Hannibal’s victories irritated Rome, which provoked Carthage in a war. After 3 years of resistance, the besieged capital surrendered, victim of hunger. The 50,000 Carthaginian survivors were sold and made slaves. Magnificent buildings were destroyed. The Romans set the city on fire for 70 days. The African Republic died in 147 BC after almost 7 centuries of existence.

The destruction of Carthage
Unknown author

Through his countless military exploits including Cannae and Lake Trebia, his resilience under all circumstances, his incredible military expertise, Hannibal is considered today as one of the greatest army general in human history. His war science is still taught in military schools in the West nowadays. Had Carthage not refused to send him military support, he would have probably won. With his feats, Ancestor Chenu Bechola Barca is comparable in Black history to Djehuty-Mesu (Thutmosis III) and Ramesu Maryimana (Ramses II).

We are adding a documentary clip from History channel dating from 2016 which did not go unnoticed. That is because this video material is featuring Hannibal as a Black person for the first time. It is unfortunate his army is almost entirely white here or that they show him coating himself with blood – we demand evidence. Nevertheless, the documentary goes to the right direction.

Hotep !

By : Lisapo ya Kama © (All rights reserved. Any copying or translation of the text of this article is strictly forbbiden without the written approval of Lisapo ya Kama)

Notes :

  • Great Black Leaders, edited by Ivan Van Sertima (Wayne Chandler’s Chapter)
  • Dickinson College
  • hannibalofcarthage.org
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