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Presentation on theme: "SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA FROM PRE-HISTORY TO 1500 C.E."— Presentation transcript:


2 PRE-HISTORIC AFRICA Regions in Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa vs. Northern Africa (inc. Nile Valley) The Sahara is the greatest physical and cultural barrier North settled early by Berbers, Hamites (Caucasian groups) Sub-Saharan Africa has larger regions with many micro regions West Africa Forest, Sahel called Sudan, Central Africa, East Africa, South Africa Each region defined by physical geography and vegetation; many micro cultures North and East Africa saw first “African” civilizations The Nile River: Pharaonic Egypt; Kush-Meroe (often called Nubia) The Ethiopian Highlands: Axum (Aksum) or Ethiopia North Africa: Carthaginian Empire, Roman and Greek civilizations The Sudan Sudanic region was sahel or plains stretching across Africa south of Sahara 9000 B.C.E. domestication of cattle; cultivation of sorghum, cotton Became home to most Sub-Saharan civilizations Small states based on tribes, clans developed Religion: polytheism, shamanism, placation of spirits, divination Climatic Change Prior to 5000 CE Sahara one large inland sea surrounded by plains 5000 B.C.E. development of Sahara Desert as desertification increased Increasing desertification forced mass popular migration to water Nile shifts to east; formation of large lakes in Central Africa that feed Nile




6 THE BANTU The Bantu peoples Bantu agriculture and herding
Originated in the region around modern Nigeria/Cameroon Influenced by Nok iron making, herding, agriculture Population pressure drove migrations, 2000 BCE – 700 BCE Two major movements: to south and to east and then south Languages split into about 500 distinct but related tongues Bantu agriculture and herding Early Bantu relied on agriculture – slash-burn, shifting Pastoralists, semi-nomadic due to agriculture, cattle Iron metallurgy Iron appeared during the 7th and 6th centuries B.C.E. Iron made agriculture more productive Expanded divisions of labor, specialization in Bantu societies Population Pressures Iron technologies produced population upsurge Large populations forced migration of Bantu

7 THE BANTU MIGRATION The Bantu Migration Bananas Population growth
Population pressure led to migration, c B.C.E. Movement to South, along Southeast and Southwest coasts Languages differentiated into about 500 distinct but related tongues Occupied most of sub-Saharan (except West) Africa by 1000 C.E. Split into groups as they migrated: Eastern, Central, Southern Bantu spread iron, herding technologies as they moved Bananas Between 300/500 C.E., Malay seafarers reached Africa Settled in Madagascar, visited East African coast Brought with them pigs, taro, and banana cultivation Bananas became well-established in Africa by 500 C.E. Bantu learned to cultivate bananas from Malagasy Bananas caused second population spurt, migration surge Reached South Africa in 16th century CE Population growth 3.5 million people by 400 B.C.E. 11 million by the beginning of the millennium 17 million by 800 C.E. 22 million by 1000 C.E.




Stateless societies Early Bantu societies did not depend on elaborate bureaucracy Societies governed through family and kinship groups Village council, consisted of male family heads Chief of a village was from the most prominent family heads A group of villages constituted a district Villages chiefs negotiated intervillage affairs Chiefdoms Population growth strained resources, increased conflict Some communities began to organize military forces, 1000 C.E. Powerful chiefs overrode kinship networks and imposed authority Some chiefs conquered their neighbors Kingdom of Kongo Villages formed small states along the Congo River, 1000 C.E. Small states formed several larger principalities, 1200 C.E. One of the principalities conquered neighbors, built kingdom of Kongo Maintained a centralized government with a royal currency system Provided effective organization until the mid-17th century

12 SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS Diversity of African societies in Sub-Saharan Africa Complex societies developed into kingdoms, empires, and city-states Coexisted with small states and stateless societies Lineages consisted of all members descended from a common ancestor Kinship groups of stateless societies Extended families and clans as social and economic organizations Communities claimed rights to land, no private property Village council allocated land to clan members Sex and gender relations Men undertook heavy labor, herding, Women were responsible for child rearing, domestic chores, farming Men monopolized public authority but women could be leaders Women enjoyed high honor as the source of life Many societies were matrilineal; aristocratic women influenced public affairs Women merchants commonly traded at markets Sometimes women organized all-female military units Islam did little to curtail women's opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa Age grades Publicly recognized "age grades" or "age sets" Assumed responsibilities and tasks appropriate to their age grades Coming of age ceremonies and secret societies restricted by age, gender



Egyptian History, c BCE to 525 BCE Pre-history dominated by small city-states along Nile Old Kingdom Menes- Narmer united Upper/Lower Egypt Pyramid building era; pharaohs considered divine Middle Kingdom 2nd Illness saw Semitic invasion: Hyksos New Kingdom saw rise of empire 3rd Illness saw invasions by Kush, Assyrians, Sea Peoples Eventually ruled by Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines Kush in Upper Nile assimilates Egyptian culture Ethnically were Black Africans Adopted many of Egyptian practices: religion, architecture Ruled Egypt as 26th Dynasty Famous for iron, gold trade Remained independent until Muslim conquests

16 NILE SOCIETIES Urban elites (2%) ruled over rural masses
Social Classes Pharaoh (ruler and his immediate family) Officials (Advisors, generals, soldiers, priests) Merchants and artisans Peasants Slaves Patriarchal societies with a twist Women were occasionally rulers Women had rights, could own lands Were “less” than males but not oppressed

17 RELIGIONS OF THE NILE Polytheism Ahkenaton and Monotheism
Extremely complex pantheon of gods Deification of nature Extremely powerful, influential priesthood with great wealth Conflict of good, evil Humans judged for their actions Cult of Osiris Strong belief in afterlife, accountability for actions Mummification was but one aspect of this Regenerative cycle of Osiris/Ra-Re/Horus Ahkenaton and Monotheism Amenhotep believed there was only one God Ended polytheism, opposed by priests; was assassinated Nubian Beliefs Adopted many Egyptian beliefs Major focus on the sun and moon

18 WRITING Early Nile Writing Education Sub-Saharan Writing
Hieroglyphics (Pictographs) Merotic Writing in Nubia Ge’ez Writing in Axum Education Scribes had influence Often attached to court or temples Services rented out Scribes could advance socially Sub-Saharan Writing Lacked alphabet, books Lack due to termites, lack of durable medium Developed oral traditional, tribal memories West African griots Memorized history by mneumonic devices Kept all records for tribes, rulers Islam brought first alphabet to Sub-Saharan Africa

19 ECONOMICS OF NILE Economic Specialization and Trade Transportation
Bronze Age arose around 17th century B.C.E. Iron Age begins around 1,000 B.C. Transportation Largely waterborne; little need for roads Out of Nile Valley, camels and horses were common Trade Egypt was largely self-sufficient, autarkic Net exporter of grains, foodstuffs, luxuries, paper, medicines Most trade was based on luxury products Papyrus, paper, medicines, herbs, finished products especially silver Imports tended to be wood, gold, finished products Kush-Meroe specialized in iron, gold workings Trade Routes Up Nile to Kush-Meroe Across Sinai to Fertile Cresent Down Red Sea to East Africa, Southern Arabia Across Mediterranean to Greece, Phoenicia Little contact with interior of Africa                            

20 THE NOK CULTURE Discovered 1928 in Northern Nigeria
Was it a civilization or advanced culture? Flourished 900 BCE to 200 CE on Niger-Benue River Clearly first Sub-Saharan civilization/culture Precursor of Bantu, West African forest peoples Knowledge is based on archeology Iron makers and sculptors Animals and humans made from fired clay Figures of animals, peoples including leaders Seem to have been pastoralists, farmers Could smelt iron Have found iron tools, weapons; probably also used wood Seemed to have skipped copper, bronze ages Indigenous or borrowed from North Africa, Nile River?

Camels Camels came to Egypt from Arabia, 7th century B.C.E. Romans introduced them to North Africa, patrolled desert After 500 C.E. camels replaced horses, donkeys as transport animals Camels' arrival quickened pace of communication across the Sahara Islamic merchants crossed the desert to trade in West Africa Established relations with sub-Saharan West Africa by 8th century The kingdom of Ghana Kings maintained a large army of two hundred thousand warriors A principal state of west Africa, not related to modern state of Ghana Became the most important commercial site in west Africa Controlled gold mines, exchanged it with nomads for salt Provided gold, ivory, and slaves Wanted horses, cloth, manufactured goods Became Islamic after its arrival. Koumbi-Saleh Capital city Thriving commercial center

North Africa Arab armies conquered region by early 8th Century; pushed up Nile Mass conversions of local inhabitants due to tax incentives West Africa Introduced by Trans-Saharan Trade route Merchants were greatest contact with Islam Local rulers, elites converted by 10th century Ghana most powerful at time of introduction Gave elites control of trade, many benefits Allowed people to observe traditional beliefs Nomadic Berbers in North Africa Berbers and Arabs were bitter rivals Arabs settled coastlands, cities Berbers lived in deserts, mountains Berbers became puritanical Muslim, Shia Berber fanatics invaded Ghana, Morocco Ghana weakened, fell 10th century CE Elite religion vs. common practices Most people remained polytheists especially outside of cities, towns Produced syncretic blend such as accommodation of African gender norms After conversion by elites, old beliefs remained; part of inherited traditions Religion introduced writing, literary traditions

23 KINGDOM OF MALI Mandike Peoples Ghana was established by Mandika
After fall of Ghana, Mandika established many small states Most people were not Muslims but merchants were Sundiata After Ghana dissolved, political leadership shifted to Mali empire, a Mandika state The lion prince was immortalized in the book the Sundiata (reigned ) built the Mali empire Ruling elites, families converted to Islam after his death The Mali empire and trade Controlled gold, salt; taxed almost all trade passing through west Africa Enormous caravans linked Mali to north Africa Besides Niani, many prosperous cities on caravan routes Mansa Musa Sundiata's grand nephew, reigned from 1312 to 1337 –Peak of power Made his pilgrimage to Mecca in Gargantuan caravan of thousand soldiers and attendants Gold devalued 25% in Cairo during his visit Mansa Musa and Islam Upon return to Mali, built mosques Sent students to study with Islamic scholars in North Africa Established Islamic schools in Mali The decline of Mali Factions crippled the central government Rise of province of Gao as rival to Mali Military pressures from neighboring kingdoms, desert nomads

24 SONGHAI EMPIRE Origins Rise Zenith Fall
Sorko fishermen of Niger became merchants Joined Gao state (part of Malian Empire) Mali could never collect taxes from Gao Rise Sonni Ali the Great build cavalry, war fleet Disputed Mali, conquer Timbuktu Anti-Muslim: saw them as a threat Zenith Askia Muhammad seized power after Sonni’s death Devout Muslim, promoted Islam; launched jihads Visited Cairo, Mecca; promoted Songhai to Muslims Declared Caliph of the Sudan Built centralized state using Muslim jurists as advisors Tradition and Trade Maintained tribal rituals of sacred drum, sacred fire, dress Privileged caste craftsmen; slaves important in agriculture Traded kola nuts, gold, slaves for horses, salt, luxuries, finished goods Fall Civil war erupted in 16th century Demographic Changes Drought, desertification hurt economy Diseases spread Moroccan Empire invades and destroys state in order to control gold trade

25 KANEM-BORNU Origins Islam and Trade A Change
Situated north east of Lake Chad. In 11th century, Sefawa dynasty was established Shift in lifestyle From entirely nomadic to pastoralist way of life with agriculture State became more centralized with capital at Njimi; maintained large cavalry Islam and Trade Kanem converted to Islam under Hu or Hawwa ( ). Faith was not widely embraced until the 13th century. Muslim traders played a role in bringing Islam to Kanem Wealth of Kanem derived from ability of rulers to control trade Main exports were ostrich feathers, slaves and ivory; imported horses, luxuries Exports were crucial to their power, ability to dominate neighbors A Change Combination of overgrazing, dynastic uncertainties, attacks from neighbors Rulers of Kanem to move to Borno, state now referred to as Kanem-Borno New contacts with Hausa of Nigeria; capital becomes center of knowledge, trade Army modernized by trade with Muslim, Turks: acquired firearms Decline was long, gradual and peaceful: fell in the 19th century

26 SLAVERY Slavery in Africa Slave trading
Most slaves were captives of war, debtors, criminals Kept for local use or sold in slave markets Often used as domestic laborers especially agricultural workers Generally not a social stigma attached Slaves could receive freedom, become part of family, tribe Children born to slaves were not slaves Slave trading Slave trade increased after the 11th century CE Primary markets Across Sahara to North Africa and Egypt and ultimately Arabia Out of East Africa to Arabia and Middle East In some years, 10 to 12 thousand slaves shipped out of Africa Males preferred, could also act as carriers of trade goods 10 million slaves transported by Islamic trade between 750/1500 Demand for slaves outstripped supply from eastern Europe Original slaves preferred in Muslim world were Caucasian Slavs Word “slave” comes from Slav Slave raids against smaller states, stateless societies Muslims could not be used as slaves (Quran) yet often ignored

Creator god Recognized by almost all African peoples Created the earth and humankind, source of world order Lesser gods and spirits Often associated with natural features, forces in world Participated actively in the workings of the world Believed in ancestors' souls influencing material world Diviners Mediated between humanity and supernatural beings Called shamans and inappropriately “witch doctors” Interpreted the cause of the people's misfortune Used medicine or rituals to eliminate problems African religion was not theological, but practical Religion to placate the gods, ask for assistance, cures, fertility Public celebrations inc. dancing, singing formed community Genders honored different deities, had separate ceremonies

Early visitors to east Africa Egyptians visited, traded with area Famous expedition of Hatshepshut to Punt Indian, Persian visited after 500 B.C.E. Greeks, Romans called area Azania Malays established colonies on Madagascar Kingdom of Axum (Aksum) Sabeans of Yemen created Axum Arose in highlands of Ethiopia Trading state across Bab el Mandeb straits Tribute empire on land; trade gold, frankincense, myrrh, food, ivory Built stone structures, issued own coins Eventually became Monophysite Christian King Ezana converted and court followed in early 4th century Developed Ge’ez language, writing in association with Christianity Maintained strong contacts with Egypt Traded with Romans, Byzantines, Persians, Indians, Arabs By 2nd century: Bantus populated much of East Africa By 7th century: Arab merchants begin to visit By 8th century: Muslim armies, merchants push up Nile

Intermarriage of the Bantu and the Arab produced Swahili An Arabic term, meaning "coasters" Dominated east African coast from Mogadishu to Sofala Swahili is a Bantu language mixed with Arabic The Swahili city-states Chiefs gained power through taxing trade on ports Developed into city-states ruled by kings, 11th-12th centuries Controlled trade from interior: slaves, gold, ivory, spices Exchanged goods for finished goods, cloths, dyes, luxuries Craftsmen, artisans, clerks were Muslims Slaves used for domestic, agriculture Zanzibar clove plantations needed slaves Kilwa One of the busiest city-states Multistory stone buildings, mosques, schools Issued copper coins from the 13th century By 15th century, exported ton of gold per year Merchants from India, China, Arabia visited Islam in East Africa Ruling elite and wealthy merchants converted to Islamic faith Conversion promoted close cooperation with Muslim merchants Conversion also opened door to political alliances with Muslim rulers

30 ZIMBABWE South Central Africa Zimbabwe Wooded and grass savannahs
Rich in minerals especially copper, gold Bantu herders, ironsmiths found it wonderful Zimbabwe A powerful kingdom of Central Africa arose in 13th century From 5th centuries C.E. built wooden residences known as zimbabwe By the 9th century began to build stone zimbabwe Magnificent stone complex known as Great Zimbabwe, the 12th century 18,000 people lived in Great Zimbabwe in the late 15th century Kings and wealth Organized flow of gold, ivory Trade include slaves Counted wealth in cattle, too Traded with Swahili city-states

Early Christianity in North Africa Christianity reached Africa during 1st century C.E. St. Mark converted Egypt, spread up Nile Romans introduced faith to North Africa North Africa was home to many heresies Arianism = Jesus was human Monophysites = Jesus had one nature Donatists = Apostate Christians could not return Vandal German settlers were Arian Christians Byzantine conquest returned north to Catholics Region had no influence on sub-Saharan African Monophysite Christianity along the Nile Believed Christ had one nature, largely divine Persecuted; declared heresy by Chalcedon The Christian kingdoms of Nubia and Axum 1st Christian kingdom, 4th century C.E., Nubians of Kush also became Christian Both adopted Monophysite form of Christianity Ethiopian and Nubian Christianity Had little contact with Christians of other lands Shared basic Christian theology/rituals, kept African points Isolated, attacked by Islam





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