Civilisations

The Fatimid Caliphate: Contributions to Arts and Sciences

The Fatimid caliphate was an Islamic kingdom that stretched over North Africa from 909 AD to 1171 AD. The caliphate promulgated the Seveners (or Ismāʿīlism) branch of Shia Islam and its geography spread from the Red Sea (to the East) to the Atlantic Ocean (to the West). It covered a total area of 4,100,000 square …

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The Bantu Migration: the irony of “them” and “us” thinking

“Bantu” is the academic category name for people of West Africa that initially lived between the regions of Cameroon and Nigeria. The name is a ‘broad brush’ grouping. Some theories propose that some migrants of this grouping traversed in groups and waves into the Congo and other basins. The Bantu migration took them far to …

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Njinga Mbandi (1581–1663): Queen, Intelligent, Tactician, Negotiator, Warrior, Thorn to Portugal

  The start of the Transatlantic slave trade was during the 15th century when the Portuguese began kidnapping people from Africa’s west coast and transported them to America and Europe. For almost a century, Portugal was rising and growing as an empire, an empire that was built on the use of slaves captured from Africa …

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Kingdom of Medri Bahri: 400 years of David v. Goliaths victories against Ottomans

The Kingdom of Medri Bahri was a semi unified state situated in the Horn of Africa (modern day Eritrea). It was established in the early 12th century and rose to prominence in the 13th century, through trade and its impressive defensive army. It survived multiple serious invasion attempts by formidable enemies, including the powerful Ottomans, …

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Kilwa Sultanate: a state based in Tanzania which traded as far as Australia

The word Kilwa translates loosely to Island. The full name of Kilwa Kisiwani, translates in Tanzanian to Isle of the Fish. The Kingdom of Kilwa is known as one of the great African empires in history. It existed from 960-1513 CE, and was based in Tanzania. In its heyday, its wealth and trading prowess was …

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Makuria: Humanity’s Longest Observed Peace Treaty, The Baqt

Makuria was successor state to the Nubian kingdom. The kingdom of Makuria comprised of​ a region along the Nile River; encompassing the area between today’s Aswan in southern Egypt and Khartoum in central Sudan. The kingdom ​existed between 500 AD to the middle of the 14th century and had its capital as Dongola which was …

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The First Kingdom in Southern Africa: Mapungubwe

The Kingdom of Mapungubwe was a pre-colonial state in Southern Africa located at the confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo rivers, south of Great Zimbabwe. Its name, translated roughly from the Shona language, means “Hill of the Jackal”. It flourished from the end of the 9th century to the beginning of the 14th century. It …

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Elections in 9th Century BCE Africa: Carthage, Prior to Athenian Democracy

Annual Elected Heads of state: Carthage (814 BC–146 BC) The Ancient Republic of Carthage which survived from 814 till about 146 BC was founded by sailors and settlers from Phoenicia (a Civilisation that existed from 2500 BC to 539BC). Phoenicians may not have viewed themselves as a nation, but the label is the term we …

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The Birth of Propaganda: King Den’s Sandal Label

If a person wanted to hold (or retain) a political role and wanted the masses to hold a particular point of view, how would they go about spreading their message and proving that they are qualified for such a role? Surely, they would want to appear at their best, bringing out all their finest qualities …

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Kingdom of Punt: When Ancient Egypt Envied Somalia

The kingdom of Punt is described in great detail in ancient Egyptian texts as the “Land of the Gods” – Ta Netjer.  The history of Punt is connected intimately with the ancient Egyptian kingdoms and was a valuable trading partner of the kingdoms. In pre-dynastic era (c6000 – 3150 BC) signs of trade had already …

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The oldest university in the world is not Bologna!

Universities today invoke a certain image. They are considered institutions of higher education, helping students develop mastery in any one of many diverse fields of liberal arts, science, engineering and medicine.  Typically, it tends to be the alumni of prestigious universities that become the administrators and leaders of government bodies, political parties, not-for-profit organizations, the military, …

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Papyri: Paving The Path To Innovation

Papyrus, from which the English word “paper” is derived, is the writing material of ancient times. The name comes from the aquatic plant Cyperus papyrus, also known as paper plant. This plant was indigenous of the Nile delta region in Egypt and it was collected mainly for its stalks. The central pith of those stalks …

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Kingdom of Zimbabwe (1220-1450 AD)

The word Zimbabwe loosely translated to ‘House of Rock’. It is a severely anglicized version of the Shona words dzimba dza mabwe, meaning great stone houses or dzimba woye, meaning esteemed houses. The Shona people were the original inhabitants of the Zimbabwe plateau. These people settled in this area and slowly developed a society of …

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THE GEDI RUINS – RuNNing Water in the 14th Century – Gedi, Kenya

Ruins of Gedi Although certain African kingdoms like Axum, north of the Swahili city states, already had evidence of trading relationships with the Eastern Roman Empire, North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, India and Sri Lanka during 100 AD through to 900 AD, other African port cities would later develop evidence of trading with India, Sri …

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