We must not reduce African societies to just villages. We are talking about the destruction of empires, states and nations. Even if we just talk about West Africa, Dahomey was a state; Benin was a state; Ashanti was a state. And it is important not to see Africa as just a collection of underdeveloped villages. For this is part of the European lie to claim an undeserved and untenable superiority…When the European first came to Africa, he had to pay taxes and tribute on the coast and had to stay on the coast. And in Dahomey, they made him build his houses in mud, not in stone to show how impermanent his residence was. And he exchanged ambassadors where he could. He exchanged ambassadors not only with Songhai, but also with Angola, Congo and other states. It was at first a necessary mutual respect for policy…But eventually, Africa, an old centre of civilisation, began to decline and capitalism began to rise, and you have a shift then in the balance of power. And the Europeans began to strengthen themselves on the coast. And appropriating knowledge from Africa and Asia and synthesising technique, they began to shift the balance of power. They began to go inland.
Someone today tried to tell me that the Songhai Empire (one of the most powerful in African history) shouldn’t count as a historically black kingdom because it was “built and ruled by Arabs”. I had made a comment about historically black kingdoms in response to someone’s “WE WUZ KANGS” joke and this redpilled motherfucker thought he knew better than me.
For those who don’t know, the Songhai are an ethnic group in Western Africa who are, you guessed it, black. Songhai built the empire, Songhai lived in it, Songhai fought for it, and Songhai ruled it. I don’t even know if I’m using the proper grammar for that but at least I fucking know what it means.
And then he had the sheer dumbass gall to call my assessment inaccurate and claim that I’m a dirty SJW historical revisionist. I’m not even an SJW. I usually can’t stand SJWs, to be completely honest.
I’m just a fucker who likes historical accuracy.
Tell me again how Askia the Great wasn’t black, shithead.
Oh but that wasn’t all, because apparently MALI wasn’t a black empire either.
You may remember Mali. It was the fabulously rich kingdom ruled by black, Muslim Western Africans, most notably Mansa Musa. He was the man who, thanks to his ridiculous wealth and charity during his Hajj to Mecca changed the price of gold throughout the ENTIRE MEDITERRANEAN:
Oh and also Ethiopia didn’t count either because the Jewish kingdoms there were “semites, not blacks” and Haile Selassie was “too modern to count”.
Now first off, the Jews in Ethiopia are like 99% black. They’re called Beta Israel (Beyte Yisreal in Hebrew) and they’ve been black since the beginning.
Even ignoring that vital fact, that statement forgets about the ENTIRE GIDEON DYNASTY, rulers of the Kingdom of Semien from around 400 AD to 1627 AD, when their Kingdom was absorbed into the Ethiopian Empire ruled by ANOTHER BLACK DYNASTY HOLY HELL WHO’D HAVE THUNK IT, THE SOLOMONIC DYNASTY.
So apparently Haile Selassie (Solomonic Dynasty),
Queen Gudit (or Yodit) of Semien (Gideon Dynasty),
and Menelik II (Solomonic Dynasty, the dude who beat a modernized Italian invasion with guerrilla tactics, spears, and a few muskets), among a hundred other rulelrs,
don’t count as historical black rulers because this anti-SJW son of a bitch couldn’t be bothered to read a goddamn history book and started pulling shit outta his contrarian ass.
And then he tried to pull the whole “oh the Egyptians were BROWN not BLACK lololol you sjw scum” thing.
THE ENTIRE 25TH DYNASTY WAS BLACK. They were ALL from Nubian Kush, and they oversaw some of Egypt’s most prosperous periods, as well as one of the great pyramid-building crazes.
But the best part of this was when he tried to tell me that the capital of the Kingdom of Great Zimbabwe, pictured below, was nothing more than “a glorified medieval peasant’s hut”.
(For scale, those big walls are up to five meters (or 16 feet) high and built without mortar. They’re held up by masterful architecture alone.)
IT WAS A CITY OF UP TO EIGHTEEN THOUSAND PEOPLE,
Go fuck yourself, whatever your name was. Fuck off back to your echo chamber and leave history to the grownups.
These cavaliers of the Bornu tribe were renowned for their skill in battle, and used as literally knights for the Mali and Songhai empires. The two present were one of the largest and wealthiest nations on the planet during their time. They flourished under the trans Saharan trade in which salt and other goods from the north were traded for gold in the great trading cities of Timbuktu and Gao. Three great Islamic (except for Ghana) empires arose from this trade route that had been present since the dawn of Rome: Ghana, Mali and Songhay.
Source Hermann Wagner, Schilderung der Reisen …Eduard Vogel in Central-Afrika (Leipzig, 1860), p.16
Zarma women, West Africa: The Zarma people (var. Djerma, Zerma, Dyerma, or Zabarma), are a people of westernmost Niger and adjacent areas of Burkina Faso, Benin, Ghana and Nigeria. The Zarma language is one of the Songhai languages, a branch of the Nilo-Saharan language family. x
There were many other Kingdoms in Africa, not just the Kingdom of Egypt, that are worthy of praise and honour. Indeed, Egypt played a great role in civilization, but it was only one of many on the continent. Below are few of the many greats:
While Europe was experiencing its Dark Ages, a period of intellectual, cultural and economic regression from the sixth to the 13th centuries, Africans were experiencing an almost continent-wide renaissance after the decline of the Nile Valley civilizations of Egypt and Nubia.
The leading civilizations of this African rebirth were the Axum Empire, the Kingdom of Ghana, the Mali Empire, the Songhai Empire, the Ethiopian Empire, the Mossi Kingdoms and the Benin Empire.
The Aksum or Axum Empire was an important military power and trading nation in the area that is now Eritrea and northern Ethiopia, existing from approximately 100 to 940 A.D.
At its height, it was one of only four major international superpowers of its day along with Persia, Rome and China. Axum controlled northern Ethiopia, Eritrea, northern Sudan, southern Egypt, Djibouti, Western Yemen, and southern Saudi Arabia, totaling 1.25 million square kilometers, almost half the size of India. Axum traded and projected its influence as far as China and India, where coins minted in Axum were discovered in 1990.
Axum was previously thought to have been founded by Semitic-speaking Sabaeans who crossed the Red Sea from South Arabia (modern Yemen) on the basis of Conti Rossini’s theories —but most scholars now agree that when it was founded it was an indigenous African development.
Kingdom of Ghana
Centered in what is today Senegal and Mauritania, the Kingdom of Ghana dominated West Africa between about 750 and 1078 A.D. Famous to North Africans as the “Land of Gold,” Ghana was said to possess sophisticated methods of administration and taxation, large armies, and a monopoly over notoriously well-concealed gold mines.
The king of the Soninke people who founded Ghana never fully embraced Islam, but good relations with Muslim traders were fostered. Ancient Ghana derived power and wealth from gold and the use of the camel increased the quantity of goods that were transported. One Arab writer, Al-Hamdani, describes Ghana as having the richest gold mines on Earth. Ghana was also a great military power. According to one narrative, the king had at his command 200,000 warriors and an additional 40,000 archers.
After the fall of the Kingdom of Ghana, the Mali Empire rose to dominate West Africa. Located on the Niger River to the west of Ghana in what is today Niger and Mali, the empire reached its peak in the 1350s.
The Mali Empire was founded by Mansa (King) Sundiata Keita and became renowned for the wealth of its rulers, especially Mansa Musa. He was the grandson of Sundiata’s half-brother, and led Mali at a time of great prosperity, during which trade tripled. During his rule, Mansa Musa doubled the land area of Mali; it became a larger kingdom than any in Europe at the time.
The cities of Mali became important trading centers for all of West Africa, as well as famous centers of wealth, culture and learning. Timbuktu, an important city in Mali, became one of the major cultural centers not only of Africa but of the entire world. Vast libraries and Islamic universities were built. These became meeting places of the finest poets, scholars and artists of Africa and the Middle East.
The Kingdom of Mali had a semi-democratic government with one of the world’s oldest known constitutions – The Kurukan Fuga.
The Kurukan Fuga of the Mali Empire was created after 1235 by an assembly of nobles to create a government for the newly established empire. The Kurukan Fouga divided the new empire into ruling clans that were represented at a great assembly called the Gbara. The Gbara was the deliberative body of the Mali Empire and was made up of 32 members from around 29 clans. They were given a voice in the government and were a check against the emperor’s (mansa’s) power. It was presided over by a belen-tigui (master of ceremonies) who recognized anyone who wanted to speak including the mansa. The Gbara and the Kurukan Fuga remained in place for over 40o years until 1645.
According to Wikipedia, Disney’s “Lion King” movie was based on the real life narrative of Mansa Sundiata Keita.
The Songhai Empire, also known as the Songhay Empire, was the largest state in African history and the most powerful of the medieval west African states. It expanded rapidly beginning with King Sonni Ali in the 1460s and by 1500s, it had risen to stretch from Cameroon to the Maghreb. In 1360, disputes over succession weakened the Mali Empire, and in the 1430s, Songhai, previously a Mali dependency, gained independence under the Sonni Dynasty. Around thirty years later, Sonni Sulayman Dama attacked Mema, the Mali province west of Timbuktu, paving the way for his successor, Sonni Ali, to turn his country into one of the greatest empires sub-Saharan Africa has ever seen.
Perhaps, it’s most popular leader was Muhammad Askia the Great. At its peak, the Songhai city of Timbuktu became a thriving cultural and commercial center. Arab, Italian and Jewish merchants all gathered for trade. By 1500, the Songhai Empire covered over 1.4 million square kilometers.
The Ethiopian Empire
The Ethiopian Empire also known as Abyssinia, covered a geographical area that the present-day northern half of Ethiopia covers. It existed from approximately 1137 (beginning of Zagwe Dynasty) until 1975 when the monarchy was overthrown in a coup d’état. In 1270, the Zagwe dynasty was overthrown by a king claiming lineage from the Aksumite emperors and, hence, Solomon. The thus-named Solomonic Dynasty was founded and ruled by the Habesha, from whom Abyssinia gets its name.
The Habesha reigned with only a few interruptions from 1270 until the late 20th century. It was under this dynasty that most of Ethiopia’s modern history occurred. During this time, the empire conquered and incorporated virtually all the peoples within modern Ethiopia. They successfully fought off Italian, Arab and Turkish armies and made fruitful contacts with some European powers, especially the Portuguese, with whom they allied in battle against the latter two invaders.
The Mossi Kingdoms were a number of different powerful kingdoms in modern-day Burkina Faso which dominated the region of the Upper Volta River for hundreds of years. Increasing power of the Mossi kingdoms resulted in larger conflicts with regional powers. The Kingdom of Yatenga became a key power attacking the Songhai Empire between 1328 and 1477, taking over Timbuktu and sacked the important trading post of Macina.
When Askia Mohammad I became the leader of the Songhai Empire with the desire to spread Islam, he waged a Holy war against the Mossi kingdoms in 1497. Although the Mossi forces were defeated in this effort, they resisted attempts to impose Islam. Although there were a number of jihad states in the region trying to forcibly spread Islam, namely the Massina Empire and the Sokoto Caliphate, the Mossi kingdoms largely retained their traditional religious and ritual practices. Being located near many of the main Islamic states of West Africa, the Mossi kingdoms developed a mixed religious system recognizing some authority for Islam while retaining earlier African spiritual belief systems.
Once a powerful city-state, Benin exists today as a modern African city in what is now south-central Nigeria. The present-day oba (King) of Benin traces the founding of his dynasty to A.D. 1300. The Benin Empire was a pre-colonial Edo state. Until the late 19th century, it was one of the major powers in West Africa. According to one eye witness report written by Olfert Dapper, “The King of Benin can in a single day make 20,000 men ready for war, and, if need be, 180,000, and because of this he has great influence among all the surrounding peoples… . His authority stretches over many cities, towns and villages. There is no King thereabouts who, in the possession of so many beautiful cities and towns, is his equal.”
When European merchant ships began to visit West Africa from the 15th century onwards, Benin came to control the trade between the inland peoples and the Europeans on the coast. When the British tried to expand their own trade in the 19th century, the Benin warriors killed their envoys.
This whole we wuz kangz n shiet is absolute racist garbage and it is very interesting to see anti-sjws spewing it out of their so called “non-racist” mouths. FYI, Africa had many civilizations such as the Mali Empire, Songhai Empire, Kingdom of Kongo, etc, so you only expose yourselves and how you really are when you use this phrase. At least grow a spine and admit it you cowards.
World Building: Medieval Fantasy and People of Color
When writing people of color, especially in fantasy set in older settings, would you think their ethnicity needs to match the world setting? I always get very thrown off if a writer’s world is distinctly england-based style fantasy but then the race of the characters is black or hispanic, etc. The cultures just don’t match. I’m all for having people of color in such a story, but it still seems like most people in an England-based society would be white. What do you think about this?
When people talk about setting fantasies in an “England-based” world, usually what they mean is medieval or renaissance settings: kings and castles, lords and ladies, knights and sword fights. However, England (or even all of Europe) didn’t experience the medieval and renaissance eras alone while the rest of the world sat frozen in time. All the world experienced those eras just as all the world is experiencing our current era. Sure, the specific elements may have differed from place-to-place, but there are plenty of people of color whose cultures weren’t all that different. They had kings and castles, lords and ladies, and knights and sword fights–they may have had different titles or in some cases different functions, but really not all that different. Have a look at the Ming Dynasty emperors and empresses of China, the Songhai empire of Africa, the Mughal empire of India, and the Ottomon Empire. There is no reason your English-based kingdom couldn’t be allied with a Mughal-based kingdom. There’s also no reason you couldn’t write a Songhai style fantasy, or write a story where the kingdom encompasses a variety of different cultures. And, let’s not forget that there were people of color in Europe as early as the medieval times. There’s an entire blog dedicated to highlighting this fact. So, as much as we like to think of medieval Europe as being devoid of people of color, that’s not entirely true.
There are plenty of medieval fantasies that include characters of color. More than twenty-five million people have read George R.R. Martin’s epic “England-based” fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, which includes (in the land based on England) an area called Dorne which has a Moorish Spain sort of flair. The members of their ruling family look like this:
The series also spends a lot of time on a continent “across the Narrow Sea” where there are people who look like this:
Once again, this is an “England-based” medieval fantasy, but as you can see there are numerous characters of color. And the thing is, none of these characters are “token” characters. They come from actual populations of people with similar ethnic attributes. I’ve never heard of anyone feeling thrown off of A Game of Thrones or any of the subsequent books in the series due to these characters and the populations from which they hail. So, I think you maybe just need to alter your mindset a bit. Remember that there’s a whole big world out there, even in fantasy worlds, and the world is filled with a wide variety of people. :)
100 things that you did not know about Africa - Nos.26 - 50
26. West Africa had walled towns and cities in the pre-colonial period. Winwood Reade, an English historian visited West Africa in the nineteenth century and commented that: “There are … thousands of large walled cities resembling those of Europe in the Middle Ages, or of ancient Greece.”
27. Lord Lugard, an English official, estimated in 1904 that there were 170 walled towns still in existence in the whole of just the Kano province of northern Nigeria.
28. Cheques are not quite as new an invention as we were led to believe. In the tenth century, an Arab geographer, Ibn Haukal, visited a fringe region of Ancient Ghana. Writing in 951 AD, he told of a cheque for 42,000 golden dinars written to a merchant in the city of Audoghast by his partner in Sidjilmessa.
29. Ibn Haukal, writing in 951 AD, informs us that the King of Ghana was “the richest king on the face of the earth” whose pre-eminence was due to the quantity of gold nuggets that had been amassed by the himself and by his predecessors.
30. The Nigerian city of Ile-Ife was paved in 1000 AD on the orders of a female ruler with decorations that originated in Ancient America. Naturally, no-one wants to explain how this took place approximately 500 years before the time of Christopher Columbus!
31. West Africa had bling culture in 1067 AD. One source mentions that when the Emperor of Ghana gives audience to his people: “he sits in a pavilion around which stand his horses caparisoned in cloth of gold: behind him stand ten pages holding shields and gold-mounted swords: and on his right hand are the sons of the princes of his empire, splendidly clad and with gold plaited into their hair … The gate of the chamber is guarded by dogs of an excellent breed … they wear collars of gold and silver.”
32. Glass windows existed at that time. The residence of the Ghanaian Emperor in 1116 AD was: “A well-built castle, thoroughly fortified, decorated inside with sculptures and pictures, and having glass windows.”
33. The Grand Mosque in the Malian city of Djenné, described as “the largest adobe [clay] building in the world”, was first raised in 1204 AD. It was built on a square plan where each side is 56 metres in length. It has three large towers on one side, each with projecting wooden buttresses.
34. One of the great achievements of the Yoruba was their urban culture. “By the year A.D. 1300,” says a modern scholar, “the Yoruba people built numerous walled cities surrounded by farms”. The cities were Owu, Oyo, Ijebu, Ijesa, Ketu, Popo, Egba, Sabe, Dassa, Egbado, Igbomina, the sixteen Ekiti principalities, Owo and Ondo.
35. Yoruba metal art of the mediaeval period was of world class. One scholar wrote that Yoruba art “would stand comparison with anything which Ancient Egypt, Classical Greece and Rome, or Renaissance Europe had to offer.”
36. In the Malian city of Gao stands the Mausoleum of Askia the Great, a weird sixteenth century edifice that resembles a step pyramid.
37. Thousands of mediaeval tumuli have been found across West Africa. Nearly 7,000 were discovered in north-west Senegal alone spread over nearly 1,500 sites. They were probably built between 1000 and 1300 AD.
38. Excavations at the Malian city of Gao carried out by Cambridge University revealed glass windows. One of the finds was entitled: “Fragments of alabaster window surrounds and a piece of pink window glass, Gao 10th – 14th century.”
39. In 1999 the BBC produced a television series entitled Millennium. The programme devoted to the fourteenth century opens with the following disclosure: “In the fourteenth century, the century of the scythe, natural disasters threatened civilisations with extinction. The Black Death kills more people in Europe, Asia and North Africa than any catastrophe has before. Civilisations which avoid the plague thrive. In West Africa the Empire of Mali becomes the richest in the world.”
40. Malian sailors got to America in 1311 AD, 181 years before Columbus. An Egyptian scholar, Ibn Fadl Al-Umari, published on this sometime around 1342. In the tenth chapter of his book, there is an account of two large maritime voyages ordered by the predecessor of Mansa Musa, a king who inherited the Malian throne in 1312. This mariner king is not named by Al-Umari, but modern writers identify him as Mansa Abubakari II.
41. On a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324 AD, a Malian ruler, Mansa Musa, brought so much money with him that his visit resulted in the collapse of gold prices in Egypt and Arabia. It took twelve years for the economies of the region to normalise.
42. West African gold mining took place on a vast scale. One modern writer said that: “It is estimated that the total amount of gold mined in West Africa up to 1500 was 3,500 tons, worth more than $30 billion in today’s market.”
43. The old Malian capital of Niani had a 14th century building called the Hall of Audience. It was an surmounted by a dome, adorned with arabesques of striking colours. The windows of an upper floor were plated with wood and framed in silver; those of a lower floor were plated with wood, framed in gold.
44. Mali in the 14th century was highly urbanised. Sergio Domian, an Italian art and architecture scholar, wrote the following about this period: “Thus was laid the foundation of an urban civilisation. At the height of its power, Mali had at least 400 cities, and the interior of the Niger Delta was very densely populated”.
45. The Malian city of Timbuktu had a 14th century population of 115,000 - 5 times larger than mediaeval London. Mansa Musa, built the Djinguerebere Mosque in the fourteenth century. There was the University Mosque in which 25,000 students studied and the Oratory of Sidi Yayia. There were over 150 Koran schools in which 20,000 children were instructed. London, by contrast, had a total 14th century population of 20,000 people.
46. National Geographic recently described Timbuktu as the Paris of the mediaeval world, on account of its intellectual culture. According to Professor Henry Louis Gates, 25,000 university students studied there.
47. Many old West African families have private library collections that go back hundreds of years. The Mauritanian cities of Chinguetti and Oudane have a total of 3,450 hand written mediaeval books. There may be another 6,000 books still surviving in the other city of Walata. Some date back to the 8th century AD. There are 11,000 books in private collections in Niger. Finally, in Timbuktu, Mali, there are about 700,000 surviving books.
48. A collection of one thousand six hundred books was considered a small library for a West African scholar of the 16th century. Professor Ahmed Baba of Timbuktu is recorded as saying that he had the smallest library of any of his friends - he had only 1600 volumes.
49. Concerning these old manuscripts, Michael Palin, in his TV series Sahara, said the imam of Timbuktu “has a collection of scientific texts that clearly show the planets circling the sun. They date back hundreds of years … Its convincing evidence that the scholars of Timbuktu knew a lot more than their counterparts in Europe. In the fifteenth century in Timbuktu the mathematicians knew about the rotation of the planets, knew about the details of the eclipse, they knew things which we had to wait for 150 almost 200 years to know in Europe when Galileo and Copernicus came up with these same calculations and were given a very hard time for it.”
50. The Songhai Empire of 16th century West Africa had a government position called Minister for Etiquette and Protocol.
Robin Walkers book When we ruled is one of the best books Africans and African Diaspora can use firstly as a introduction to African history and secondly a good source to become proficient with precolonial African history.
When Sunni Ali Ber came to power, Songhay was a small kingdom in the western Sudan. But during his twenty-eight-year reign, it grew into the largest, most powerful empire in West Africa. Sunni Ali Ber built a remarkable army and with this ferocious force, the warrior king won battle after battle. He routed marauding nomads, seized trade routes, took villages, and expanded his domain. He captured Timbuktu, bringing into the Songhay empire a major center of commerce, culture, and Muslim scholarship.