School in a Book: History of Africa

Ancient History (3000 BCE to 500 CE)

Overview of Africa during ancient times: Ancient Africa is most known for ancient Egypt, the first and one of the greatest civilizations in history. Elsewhere in Africa, the Sahara Desert in the North prevented other African cultures from communicating with the advanced north. Also, due to a lack of mountains, the rainfall was extremely unpredictable in most of Africa. Therefore, most tribes were nomadic and did not have the opportunity for settled towns and civilizations. Still, civilizations began to arise in the coastal areas of Africa such as x, x and x. These included advanced architecture, unique pyramids, and a strong trading market with routes to Asia and across Africa.

The Sahara Desert: The desert located in northern Africa that expands and contracts regularly. In prehistoric times, the desert shrank enough to allow humans to migrate out of Africa. In ancient times, the desert became increasingly dry, preventing communication between Northern and Southern Africans. Egyptians in the North had much more contact with Middle Easterners and Europeans than they did with Africans south of the Sahara.

Sub-saharan Africa: The area of Africa located south of the Sahara Desert which, during its early history, evolved separately and cut off from northern Africa and Eurasia

The Nile River: The deep, gentle river in Egypt with predictable patterns and surrounding deserts. Its independent biosphere causes predictable flood patterns so no irrigation systems were needed. Nile offered transportation and irrigation.

Ancient Egypt: The first civilization in Africa and one of the greatest civilizations in history. It included: farming of wheat and barley for beer and bread, flax for linen and more; advanced medicine, astronomy and engineering; a polytheistic religion; pyramids; hieroglyphics and papyrus paper; cattle for transportation; and more. In the time of Greeks, Egypt was conquered. Then, it became a Roman territory and remained so [how long?]

Egypt’s Upper and Lower Kingdoms: The two Egyptian kingdoms that existed before unification. The Upper Kingdom was located along the southern part of the Nile closer to the mountains, while the Lower Kingdom was located downhill at the northern part of the Nile called the Nile Delta.

Pharaoh: The ruler or king of ancient Egypt after Egyptian unification. The pharaoh eventually became thought of as a living god.

King Narmer/Menes: The ancient Egyptian king who, around 3000 BCE, united Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. Narmer was the first Egyptian pharaoh. With his reign, Egypt began moving through three stages: the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom.

Egypt’s Old Kingdom: The period in Egyptian history during which Narmer reigned; pyramids including the Great Pyramid at Giza were built; and the tradition of mummification began.

Egypt’s Middle Kingdom: The period in Egyptian history during which, after a time of decline, Mentuhotep restored Egypt’s greatness and fIne art and literature flourished. Though during this time Egypt invaded Nubia for gold, it remained mostly isolated. 

Egypt’s New Kingdom: The period in Egyptian history during which, after another brief decline, Egypt’s golden age took place. With a more aggressive leadership in power, Egypt took Nubian slaves; engaged in wars with the Hittites and Arameans; became known abroad; conquered Palestine; had a caste system with a wealthy noble class, a scribe/priest class, a merchant class and a peasant farmer class; had legal equality of men and women. 

Amenhotep III: The most well-known New Kingdom pharaoh, who led Egypt at its height of wealth and influence.

Mummification: The process of preserving dead bodies into very long-lasting mummies. It involved a great deal of salt and cloth wrapping. Mummies of pharaohs were often buried in pyramids. Took 70 days.

Pyramids: Like social structure: pharaoh and nobles, middle class, merchants/soldiers, peasants/farmers. Pyramids were graves. Sand would blow away from graves and expose bodies so started building mud structures over them. Got bigger and bigger, more elaborate. Replaced mud with stones, got rid of steps. Egypt had a stable social structure and stable religious ideas, possibly due to the predictability of the Nile and the farming way of life.

Great Pyramid at Giza: built (when?) many passageways and chambers. Sought to please gods and make a permanent mark on history. Stones of up to 60 tons each. 2.3 million stones used altogether. Pharaohs. Egypt unified in one kingdom for most of their history. Pharaoh considered a living god. Body mummified when died, buried with treasure for afterlife–even food. Sacred writings on walls for protection. Many cities, all hugging the Nile. Most Egyptians were farmers. Mostly uneducated but all very religious. Then–decline for 100 years. No strong ruler….The Great Pyramid at Giza: 6 million tons of stone. Stone bossibly brought on bamboo sleds/stretchers to the desert. One of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Valley of the Kings: A large burial site of ancient Egypt with many buried pyramids and housing bodies of pharaohs

Aten:

Mentuhotep:

Akhenaten: One pharaoh, Akhenaten, tried to change religion to momotheistm (god Aten) but after he died the priests of old gods regained control. Dead king’s name removed from all monuments and records, and his new capital city was abandoned. Many New Kingdom pharaohs were buried in the Valley of the Kings, including King Tutankahamen, whose tomb was rediscovered in 1922.

Cleopatra:

Ra: The ancient Egyptian sun god,

Osiris: The ancient Egyptian god of the underworld

Isis: The ancient Egyptian god of fertility

Nubia: Modern-day Sudan in northern Africa. It began as Nubia and later became the Kingdom of Kush. It was a source of iron and gold for the surrounding areas and an important trading partner for Egypt.

King Tutenkahamen/King Tut:

Book of the Dead: A collection of manuscripts and spells from Egypt

Hieroglyphics: 3200-2600 BCE. First deciphered by modern-day people in 1822 after the discovery of the Rosetta Stone which had both hieroglyphics and Greek writing

The Rosetta Stone: An ancient artifact featuring hieroglyphic writing which helped modern-day scholars translate hieroglyphs into modern languages and therefore, learn more about Egyptian history than was previously known

Kingdom of Kush: 2000 B.C.: Kingdom of Kush grew out of Nubia (Sudan), whichtook after Egypt. Trading partner for Egypt, source of gold….1500 B.C.: Egypt conquered Kush for 750 years…700 B.C.: Kush transitioned from stone working to iron working (no bronze) and flourished, supplying places in Africa and the Middle East. Ehipia was more self-contained but also important culture of this time.

Nok culture: 600: Growth of Nok culture on Niger River, Nigeria and Meroe, [?], Chad, Bantu. Southern Africa shepherds and hunter-gatherers called Khoisan.

Aksum Empire: “An empire located in the Horn of Africa that ruled from 100 ce to 940 ce. “350 B.C.: Meroi collapsed and was replaced by Aksum, which grew rich. Great cities and monoliths. Adopted Christianity. Thrived until AD 1000! … 1000: Collapse of Aksum in East Africa.

Jenne-jeno: 200: Jenne-jeno, the first African city (in West Africa) established. Partly due to introduction of camel to the Sahara, so trade could happen in West Africa.

Carthage: “A powerful city-state in North Africa on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.” For a time, it rivaled Rome.

Phoenicians: The Phoenicians established a colony at Carthage and controlled the western Mediterranean for nearly 600 years.

The Middle Ages (500 CE to 1500 CE)

Overview of Africa during the Middle Ages: Various forms of government–councils, chiefs, indirect rule (during colonial times) and civil wars frequent…ununified…prior to colonialism, at its peak, there were up to 10,000 different states and autonomous groups with distinct languages and customs. Seagoing advances led to increased trade with Middle East and India. Gold, salt, ivory, slaves. Success based on trade, not conquest. Even though there were wars between kingdoms.

In 642 the Arabs conquered Egypt. In 698-700, they took Tunis and Carthage and soon they controlled all of the coasts of North Africa. The Arabs were Muslims, of course, and soon the whole coast of North Africa converted to Islam. Ethiopia remained Christian but it was cut off from Europe by the Muslims.

After 800 AD organized kingdoms emerged in northern Africa. They traded with the Arabs further north. (Trade with the Arabs led to the spread of Islam to other parts of Africa). Arab merchants brought luxury goods and salt. In return, they purchased gold and slaves from the Africans.

One of the earliest African kingdoms was Ghana (It included parts of Mali and Mauritania as well as the modern country of Ghana). By the 9th century, Ghana was called the land of gold. However, Ghana was destroyed in the 11th century by Africans from further north.

By the 11th century, the city of Ife in Southwest Nigeria was the capital of a great kingdom. From the 12th century craftsmen from Ife made terracotta sculptures and bronze heads. However, by the 16th century, Ife was declining.

Another African state was Benin. (The medieval kingdom of Benin was bigger than the modern country). From the 13th century, Benin was rich and powerful.

Meanwhile, the kingdom of Mali was founded in the 13th century. By the 14th century, Mali was rich and powerful. Its cities included Timbuktu, which was a busy trading center where salt, horses, gold, and slaves were sold.

However, the kingdom of Mali was destroyed by Songhai in the 16th century. Songhai was a kingdom situated east of Mali on the River Niger from the 14th century to the 16th century. Songhai reached a peak of about 1500 AD. However, in 1591 they were defeated by the Moroccans and their kingdom broke up.

Another great North African state was Kanem-Bornu, located near Lake Chad. Kanem-Bornu rose to prominence in the 9th century and it remained independent till the 19th century.

Meanwhile, the Arabs also sailed down the east coast of Africa. Some of them settled there and they founded states such as Mogadishu. They also settled on Zanzibar.

Inland some people in southern Africa formed organized kingdoms. About 1430 impressive stone buildings were erected at Great Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile in the Middle Ages Ethiopia flourished. The famous church of St George was built about 1200.

Meanwhile, the Portuguese were exploring the coast of Africa. In 1431 they reached the Azores. Then in 1445, they reached the mouth of the River Congo. Finally, in 1488 the Portuguese sailed around the Cape of Good Hope.

Mansa Musa: “Emperor of the Mali Empire who made a famous pilgimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. He was one of the richest people in history.”

Ghana: The first known empire in western Africa was Ghana (5th–11th century CE). AD 700-1240: Ghana, the first true African state. Center of gold trade. Located inland and more4 north than modern-day Ghana. Successors were Mali and Songhai. Became rich due to Arabs using camels to cross Sahara for the gold, mined further south and west. Brought in sald, European goods came there and slaves were traded out. Fell in 1076, restored, then fell again and in 1240 became part of Mali.

Mali: Mali founed by Sundiata Keita. Well-organized state, fertile farmlands beside the Niger River. Gold trade. Powerful. Many wealthy cities. Great Mosque designed by an Egyptian. City called Timbuktu on Niger. Key destination of caravan routes. 100 schools, a university, mosques, market. Ivory, too. Slaves to Muslim world, Venice and Genoa. Imported salt, cloth, ceramics, glass, horses, luxuries. Became Muslim for a time under a sypathetic ruler.

Songhai: muslim. (c. 1400–1591).

Sunni Ali: 1465 – Ruler of Songhai in Western Africa. Created the largest empire ever in Africa, captured Timbuktu, took control of the trans Saharan route for gold and salt trade

Bantu: AD 500: Bantu-speaking people from Nigeria migrated south, “leaving the rain forests to the Pygmies and the Kalahari Desert to the Khoisan bushmen. Bantu speakers in east started trading with Greeks and Romans.

Ethiopia: 1137: Ethiopia (Abyssinia) founded. Christians. Capital moved from Aksum to Lalibela. 1270-1500s: Ethiopia expanded into mountains of East Africa, taking in many once-isolated tribes. Regarded as a mysterious Christian kingdom. Had an emperor. Built 11 cross-shaped churches carved out of solid rock. 1500s: Declined due to internal discord.Not great warriors and never expanded (or even tried to) by military means.

Kilwa – Built almost entirely from coral

Benin: 900-1480: Kingdom of Benin in modern-day Nigeria. Benin: West Africa. Forest kingdom. Benin City, capital. Had wide streets, large wooden houses, long surrounding walls. Bronze carvings. Traded in cloth, ivory, metals, palm oil, pepper, poottery and brass art like masks and carvings. King had a rich palace. Ruled at height by Oba Eware the Great, who modernized and didn’t enslave prisoners or engage in slave trade, which protected it from European colonization till 1897.

Zimbabwe: 900-1450: South: Great Zimbabwe. Stone structures built entirely without mortar Large reserves of copper, gold. Walled palace city called Great Zimbabwe. Massive stone structures (granite)–how? by whom? A mystery. (A Zimbabwe is a stone-built enclosure and we call Zimbabwes this because of this famous structure….1450: Zimbabwe overtaken. 1500: Conquered by Songhay (lower down the Niger River).

Kanem & Timbuktu: Two of the kingdoms located along the Saharan trade route that enabled more foreign trade

Early Modern Times (1500 CE to 1900 CE)

Overview of Africa during the Early Modern Times:

In the 16th century, Europeans began to transport African slaves across the Atlantic. However, slavery was nothing new in Africa. For centuries Africans had sold other Africans to the Arabs as slaves.

However, the trans-Atlantic slave trade grew until it was huge. In the 18th-century ships from Britain took manufactured goods to Africa. They took slaves from there to the West Indies and took sugar back to Britain. This was called the Triangular Trade. (Many other European countries were involved in the slave trade).

Some Africans were sold into slavery because they had committed a crime. However many slaves were captured in raids by other Africans. Europeans were not allowed to travel inland to find slaves. Instead, Africans brought slaves to the coast. Any slaves who were not sold were either killed or used as slaves by other Africans. The slave trade would have been impossible without the co-operation of Africans many of whom grew rich on the slave trade.

Meanwhile, from the 16th to the 18th centuries Barbary pirates from the North African coast robbed Spanish and Portuguese ships. They also took slaves from the coasts of Europe.

In the 16th century, a people called the Turks conquered most of the North African coast. In 1517 they captured Egypt and by 1556 most of the coast was in their hands.

Further south Africans continued to build powerful kingdoms. The empire of Kanem-Bornu expanded in the 16th century using guns bought from the Turks. However, in the 16th century, Ethiopia declined in power and importance although it survived.

Meanwhile the Europeans founded their first colonies in Africa. In the 16th century, the Portuguese settled in Angola and Mozambique while in 1652 the Dutch founded a colony in South Africa.

African slave trade: Late 1400s – Europeans joined the slave trade and expended it greatly. Started by trade rather than by force. First to buy slaves: Portugal-took ethiopia in 1543 and increased slave trade – millions shipped to the Americas – many died during slave wars or en route to the americas. Coastal slaves were joined by inland slaves after European developments in gun technology. A catastrophe for Africa to lose so many people. Less tribal security–greedy chiefs sold own people

Slave trade: 1700s: Africa relatively peaceful despite European settlemtn. 35,000 slaves each year sent to the Americas….1787: British established Sierra Leone as a refugee for freed slaves….1822: Liberia founded for freed slaves from the U.S….Early 1800s: Most European countries stopped trading in slaves, though Portugese continued till 1882.

African colonization: Portuguese explored the western coast in the 15th century. Before the late 19th century, Europe showed little interest in colonizing Africa, but by 1884 European countries had begun a scramble to partition the continent, and by 1920 much of it was under colonial rule. Anticolonial sentiment developed gradually, becoming widespread after 1950, and one by one the colonies became independent, the last in 1990. Political instability, refugee problems, famine, and AIDS are the chief problems facing the continent in the early 21st century….

African germs took numerous European lives and deterred permanent settlements. Diseases such as yellow feversleeping sicknessyaws, and leprosy made Africa a very inhospitable place for Europeans. The deadliest disease was malaria, endemic throughout Tropical Africa. In 1854, the discovery of quinine and other medical innovations helped to make conquest and colonization in Africa possible.

The Boers: Dutch colonial settlers of South Africa. The Boers fought with the British for control of South Africa, retreating further inland in order to retain their settlements there. They intimidated African tribes, including the Zulu, with guns and horses. They eventually lost the area to the British.

The Berber: The native peoples of North Africa [who gave them this name?]

Dutch East India Company: 1637: Dutch drove Portugese from the Gold Coast..
1652: Dutch East India Company founded Cape Town.

The Middle Passage:

Horn of Africa:

The Ivory Coast:

The Gold Coast:

Zulu warriors: Early 1800s: Zulu trive in Southern Africa fought constantly with neighbors. Major bloodshed. Zulu warriors! “Time of Troubles.” Islam still going strong. Most of Africa still owned by Africans, but not united against Arabs and Europeans, so very vulnerable.

Fight to end slave trade: In the 1800s European states tried to stop the slave trade. Britain banned the slave trade in 1807.

In 1814 the British took the Dutch colony in South Africa. In 1830 the French invaded northern Algeria. However, colonization only became serious in the late 19th century when Europeans ‘carved up’ Africa.

In 1884 the Germans took Namibia, Togo, and Cameroon and in 1885 they took Tanzania. In 1885 Belgium took over what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. The French took Madagascar in 1896. They also expanded their empire in northern Africa. In 1912 they took Morocco and Italy took Libya.

Scramble for Africa: Between 1884 and 1885, European nations met at the Berlin West Africa Conference to discuss the partitioning of Africa. It was agreed that European claims to parts of Africa would only be recognised if Europeans provided effective occupation. In a series of treaties in 1890–1891, colonial boundaries were completely drawn. All of Sub-Saharan Africa was claimed by European powers, except for Ethiopia (Abyssinia) and Liberia

Strong motives for conquest of Africa were at play. Raw materials were needed for European factories. Europe in the early part of the 19th century was undergoing its Industrial Revolution. Nationalist rivalries and prestige were at play. Acquiring African colonies would show rivals that a nation was powerful and significant. These factors culminated in the Scramble for Africa.[299]David Livingstone, early European explorer of the interior of Africa, is attacked by a lion.French explorer Paul Du Chaillu confirmed the existence of Pygmy peoples of central Africa … Knowledge of Africa increased. Numerous European explorers began to explore the continent. explorers included Sir David Livingstone …Missionaries attempting to spread Christianity also increased European knowledge of Africa.

The European powers set up a variety of different administrations in Africa, reflecting different ambitions and degrees of power. In some areas, such as parts of British West Africa, colonial control was tenuous and intended for simple economic extraction, strategic power, or as part of a long-term development plan. In other areas, Europeans were encouraged to settle, creating settler states in which a European minority dominated. Settlers only came to a few colonies in sufficient numbers to have a strong impact. British settler colonies included British East Africa (now Kenya), Northern and Southern Rhodesia, (Zambia and Zimbabwe, respectively), and South Africa, which already had a significant population of European settlers, the Boers. France planned to settle Algeria and eventually incorporate it into the French state on an equal basis with the European provinces. Algeria’s proximity across the Mediterranean allowed plans of this scale.[citation needed]

In most areas colonial administrations did not have the manpower or resources to fully administer the territory and had to rely on local power structures to help them. Various factions and groups within the societies exploited this European requirement for their own purposes, attempting to gain positions of power within their own communities by cooperating with Europeans. One aspect of this struggle included what Terence Ranger has termed the “invention of tradition.” In order to legitimize their own claims to power in the eyes of both the colonial administrators and their own people, native elites would essentially manufacture “traditional” claims to power, or ceremonies. As a result, many societies were thrown into disarray by the new order.

The Boer Wars: 1836: Cape Colony at Southern tip ruled by British. Expanded northward. Fought Zulus and the Boers for control of area. Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, Cecil Rhodes, sought to unite all of Africa under British rule. Boer Wars.

The Modern Era (1900 to the Present)

In 1914 the British took control of Egypt. By then all of Africa was in European hands except Liberia and Ethiopia. (The Italians invaded Ethiopia in 1896 but they were defeated by the Ethiopians).

Further south the British took Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Uganda, and Kenya. The British also took control of Egypt. Angola and Mozambique remained Portuguese.

However, in the early 20th century attitudes to imperialism began to change in Europe. Furthermore in Africa churches provided schools and increasing numbers of Africans became educated. They became impatient for independence. The movement for African independence became unstoppable and in the late 1950s and 1960s, most African countries became independent.

In 1960 alone 17 countries gained their independence. However, Mozambique and Angola did not become independent until 1975.

In the early 21st century Africa began to boom. Today the economies of most African countries are growing rapidly. Tourism in Africa is booming and investment is pouring into the continent. Africa is developing rapidly and there is every reason to be optimistic.

Swahili: “An ethnic group in East Africa. Also, the language spoken by many East African nations including Kenya and Uganda.

1902: Peace treaty signed making Boer republics part of British empire, though self-governed.

1910: Union of South Africa founded, unifying several African provinces under the British.

1869: Suez Canal opens to shipping.

1875: Britain took advantage of a local financial crisis and bought 50 percent of shares of Suez Canal.

1871: Stanley, an American journalist, met Dr. David Livingstone at Lake Tansanyika (sp?). Livingstone was seeking the source of the Nile.

1876: Belgium took over the Congo.

1880-1912: European nations “scramble for Africa.” Led by Britain, France, plus Germany, Belgium and Italy.

Late 1800s: Britain had modern-day Ghana, Nigeria and controlled Sierra Leone, Egypt and the Gambia. Belgium had the Congo in Central Africa. [see map p362]. French were in West Africa, Britain in w, ne, south; belgium in center and other spred-out colonies. New forms of gov3ernment brought to Africa, but most Africans couldn’t vote and tribes were broken up in the “cake-cutting” process. European colonists often took best farmland for themselves. Profits all went to Europe.(here ins: how african nations gained independence)

1882: British occupy Egypt to protect Suez Canal, which cut their time to India hugely. This caused some fighting.

1884: European nations met in Berlin to divide Africa among themselves. Only Liberia and Ethiopia remained independent.

1893: Frech take Timbuktu, Mali, W. Africa.

1899: British-Egyptian rule of Sudan

Cecil Rhodes:

Suez Canal:

1912: African National Congress forms in South Africa.

Africa during World War I and World War II: With the vast majority of the continent under the colonial control of European governments, the World Wars were significant events in the geopolitical history of Africa. Africa was a theater of war and saw fighting in both wars. More important in most regions, the total war footing of colonial powers impacted the governance of African colonies, through resource allocation, conscription, and taxation. 

Decolonization of Africa: The decolonization of Africa started with Libya in 1951, although LiberiaSouth AfricaEgypt and Ethiopia were already independent. Many countries followed in the 1950s and 1960s, with a peak in 1960 with the Year of Africa, which saw 17 African nations declare independence, including a large part of French West Africa. Most of the remaining countries gained independence throughout the 1960s, although some colonizers (Portugal in particular) were reluctant to relinquish sovereignty, resulting in bitter wars of independence which lasted for a decade or more. The last African countries to gain formal independence were Guinea-Bissau (1974), Mozambique (1975) and Angola (1975) from Portugal; Djibouti from France in 1977; Zimbabwe from the United Kingdom in 1980; and Namibia from South Africa in 1990. Eritrea later split off from Ethiopia in 1993.[322]

1967-2000: Famine in Africa widespread. Drought. Civil war, which made sending aid very dangerous.

1990-2000: South Africa and Apartheid. S. Af was the last country without self-rule. Still imperialist till Nelson Mandella ended apartheid. Apartheid: separation ofr people according to color or race. Started by the Boers in s. af. in early 1900s. Different laws if you were white, black or “colored” (mixed). Blacks and colored forced to live outside cities and movement restricted. White people in power and resisted opposition from the ANC (African National Congress) in the 60s by harsh laws, including making it illegal to have all-black political parties.

1980s: Colored allowed into government but not blacks. Starting in 1978, several reformers for change, inc President Botha, Desmond Tutu (an Anglican leader), PresidentF.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandella, who was released from prison by Klerk after 28 years. Mandella became the head of the ANC, then president. Free elections that included all people came in 1994 andled to end of apartheird. Argued for peacefrul settlement. Focus turned to need for schooling, poverty, lack of electricity and clean drinking water, unemployment and street crime.

African National Congress (ANC):

Desmond Tutu:

Apartheid:

Nelson Mandela:

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