Africa The origins of humanity Hominids through Homo Sapiens

Africa The origins of humanity Hominids through Homo Sapiens


Continent, not a country

Conflicts among Africans

No common identity

Disputes over



Natural resources

Religious beliefs

Africa – Diverse Continent

Well developed civilizations

Educated people

Speak multiple languages


Farming villages

Various climate regions-

grasslands, deserts, mountains


Suffered from stereotypes of being inferior by European standards

Technology lags behind Europe or the Middle East

Weaponry is different

Some tribal areas are seen as primitive

Not really any seafaring cultures in Africa

Much of this is due to lack of knowledge by the Europeans. Languages were being developed very early as was the use of Iron as far back as 1000 BCE in what would be modern day Chad, 900 BCE in Nigeria and 700-500 BCE in Mali (Timbuktu)


Importance of kinship –

extended families, tight knit communities.

Family lineage was important.

Griots were historians or storytellers. They would memorize the genealogy of everyone in the village.


Indigenous – native to the land- polytheistic, animalistic, within nature

Islamic – due to trade with Middle East.

(brought by traders not armies)

Christian – due to trade and interaction with missionaries

Bantu- “many peoples”

Bantu migration- move from west-central Africa to south and southeast

They spread agriculture and the use of iron

This migration helps spread civilizations through Africa

Many African languages are Bantu in origin


Near center of modern day Nigeria around

1st century BCE. These are detailed and elaborate Terra Cotta Sculptures.


Was a gateway to trade in Africa from the Middle East

Trade made them rich

Good soil gave them great harvests

In the 3rd and 4th century the city had 20,000 people

It had a grand palace

Obelisks were used to mark the grave sites of the kings

Access to Frankincense – which was as valuable as gold

It also was a safe haven for the first Muslims to Africa that Muhammad sent there for protection


located about 30 miles northeast of Axum (Ethiopia).

It is the largest site in the Horn of Africa showing evidence of contact with South Arabia.

Some scholars think Yeha as precursor to the Aksumite civilization. (Axum)

The earliest occupation at Yeha dates to the first millennium BC, with a Great Temple, a “palace” (perhaps an elite residence) at Grat Be’al Gebri, and the cemetery at Daro Mikael with shaft-tombs. (built at the same time as Parthenon in Greece)


King Ezana is first to embrace Christianity

Coins in this area around 350 AD show a cross on them (Christian symbol).

Ezana conquered areas of Kush, Nubia and Axum

Christianity will spread and will thrive for 1,000 years


King Lalibela

He dug for 24 years to create churches

He was made a saint

Ark of Covenant

Queen of Sheba from Africa visited King Solomon in Jerusalem and they had a son named Menalik who brought the Ark to Ethiopia.

The people in Ethiopia call the ark Zion and Zion is where God dwells so every church has a replica of the ark.

It is believed that a small church in Axum still has the ark.


Based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ

It began as a small sect of Judaism during the first century in ancient Israel

Islamic Traders

Spur development of civilizations

Trading centers develop in Eastern and Northern Africa

commodities taken to Middle East and India were ivory, gold, slaves, salt, and the cola-nut

Arab traders married East Africans and provided foundations for city-states and local kingdoms.

travel by caravans using camels

In northern Arica it was an Arab conquest but not an Islamic conquest. Conversion was not required. People adopt the religion through choice.

Islamic Traders

Develop language – Swahili- which combines African and Arabic features to promote wider communication

The Islamic religion became the religion of the elite and provided uniformity in areas of trade, government, law and writing

Impact of Islamic Trade

Thriving cities develop- wealth and social classes develop

Huge African empires develop- Timbuktu

Development of intellectual centers

The spread of literacy (more people can read)

Spread of learned men – doctors and men of religion

Africa became part of Islamic orbit

Africa became a participant in international trade

African Packet and Questions


How did it become wealthy?


What did they mine?


What kind of weapons did they use?


Sundiata and Mansa Musa

Who was Sundiata?

Describe his pilgrimage to Mecca.



Name 4 products that passed through the region.

Which product was the most important?


What does the word Zimbabwe mean in the Bantu language?


What did Zimbabwe come to be known as?

How did the country return to the name Zimbabwe?

3 Great Kingdoms of the Sudan ( Black in Arabic)

Sudan is the southern Sahara and the grasslands below it.

The kingdoms extracted wealth from the traders, collecting taxes on traded goods.

Ghana- salt and gold mining. Traded in ivory. Developed ideas of divine kingship. The kings would hire Arabs to keep records, which helped develop a bureaucracy and expand the state. Ghana was dependent on local military groups for protection and was vulnerable to nomadic raiders.

Mali- led by Sundiata, who was seen as a divine monarch, who not only had authority but also magical power. Sundiata’s successor was Mansa Musa. An Islamic leader whose pilgrimage through Africa to Mecca was elaborate and affected the economies of where he traveled because of his distribution of gold.

Songhai- developed a civil service system to supplement the authority of the king. This was an Islamic state but most of the people remained polytheistic. This kingdom fell from attacks, especially from Morocco.

Mansa Musa

Net Worth:$400 Billion

He is referred to as The Richest Man of All Time.

Mansa Musa is the tenth Mansa

Mansa Musa was born in 1280. He died in 1337. He had two sons.


Read in packet

Timbuktu Mosques

From Senegal to Niger to Ghana and the Ivory Coast, African mosques are made of clay.

Buttressing is done with wooden stakes for scaffolding during the yearly process of resurfacing as well as for decorative purposes. There is also a ‘mihrab tower‘ (niche in wall showing which direction Mecca is), a flat roof and a courtyard.

The roof is supported by pillars and the floor is usually covered with sand on top of which mats are laid.

Lighting is achieved by holes pierced in the ceiling. Except for the massive pillars and their arches, interiors are undecorated.


Zimbabwe Stone dwellings

Became wealthy through trade

Ancient stone structures

The size of the structures rival the pyramids

Great Enclosure

Wall – 4 stories high in some places

800 feet in length

No mortar was used

Double walls to create passageways

Walls send a message of power – defense but also impress

Characteristics of African Society

Divine monarchs

Tight family structures

Mothers carry young children with them while they work

Religious rituals

Medicine men

Women have considerable status in the home and through Islam have property rights


Landowning lords and farming communities

Family based trading companies

Mining technology- copper and iron working

Colorful dress

Characteristics of African Society

African Art



Emphasis on the circle

Work in wood, ivory, stone, beads, Terra-cotta

Mali Art

Zimbabwe Art

Mambia Art

Ife Faces

Africa 1500’s

Spain and Turks competing for North Africa

Portuguese are first to pioneer European interest in Africa

Portuguese were enlisted by West Africans as soldiers

1st goal – spices of the East – so they set up trading structures (factories)

2nd – in the West- interest in slaves – create settlements in Zambezi and Mozambique

Elmina Castle

Elmina Castle

Elmina Castle was erected by Portuguese in 1482 in present-day Elmina, Ghana.

It was the first trading post built on the Gulf of Guinea, so is the oldest European building in existence below the Sahara.

First established as a trade settlement, the castle later became one of the most important stops on the route of the Atlantic slave trade.

The Dutch seized the fort from the Portuguese in 1637, and took over all the Portuguese Gold Coast in 1642.

The slave trade continued under the Dutch until 1814; in 1872 the Dutch Gold Coast, including the fort, became a possession of the British Empire.

The Congo and the Belgians

19th century

King Leopold

Got personal title

to Congo

King Leopold I do not want to miss a good chance of getting us a slice of this magnificent African cake.

Sends Stanley Livingston as an ambassador, but the intention is really to take land. Livingston does not seem to be informed about this. He seems to be looking for trade routes and has a desire to bring Christianity to the people.

Leopold however had his military:



Force people to labor for ivory and rubber

King Leopold will claim the Congo as his personal property

Men, women, and children were separated and tagged

Given production quotas

If they failed they were whipped, their hands were cut off, or they were hung

About 10 million Congolese were starved, worked to death, or killed

After 20 years half of the country’s population was gone

After Leopold


Created a white/black society

Schools, luxury hotels, research institutes all for the white Belgians

1975 first democratically elected leader who will be killed by CIA and Belgians

Mobutu put in place- cruel, stole from country

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