What was Africa like before the slave trade?
I am an LSE graduate living in Central London
Egypt was the first of many great African civilisations. It lasted thousands of years and achieved many magnificent and incredible things in the fields of science, mathematics, medicine, technology and the arts. Egyptian civilisation was already over 2000 years old by the time the city of Rome was built. In the west of Africa, the kingdom of Ghana was a vast Empire that spread across an area the size of Western Europe. Between the ninth and thirteenth centuries, it traded in gold, salt and copper. It was like a medieval European empire, with a collection of powerful local rulers, controlled by one king or emperor. Ghana was highly advanced and prosperous. It is said that the Ghanaian ruler had an army of 200,000 men. The kingdoms of Benin and Ife were led by the Yoruba people and sprang up between the 11th and 12th centuries. The Ife civilisation goes back as far as 500BC and its people made objects from bronze, brass, copper, wood and ivory. Studies of Benin show that they were highly skilled in ivory carving, pottery, rope and gum production. From the 13th to the 15th century, the kingdom of Mali spread across much of West and North-East Africa. At its largest, the kingdom was 2000 kilometres wide and there was an organised trading system, with gold dust and agricultural produce being exported north. Mali reached its height in the 14th century. Cowrie shells were used as a form of currency and gold, salt and copper were traded. Between 1450-1550, the Songhay kingdom grew very powerful and prosperous. It had a well-organised system of government, a developed currency and it imported fabrics from Europe. Timbuktu became one of the most important places in the world. Libraries and universities were built and it became the meeting place for poets, scholars and artists from other parts of Africa and the Middle East. Forms of slavery existed in Africa before Europeans arrived. Some countries in the African continent had their own systems of slavery. People were enslaved as punishment for a crime, payment for a debt or as a prisoner of war. However, African slavery was different from what was to come later.
Shannon also answered
Asked in History 🕌
ASKED BY IVANNAHISTORY 🕌
In the book things Fall Apart by China’s Achebe how was Okonkwo wrong in participating in the killing of Ikemefuna?
In “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe, Okonkwo is told through Ogbuefi Ezeudu that the Oracle has decreed that Ikemefuna be killed. Ezeudu also ca...
ASKED BY SELINAHISTORY 🕌
Why was Kristalnacht so significant?
Kristallnacht was the ‘Night of Broken Glass’ as Nazi party paramilitary forces and civilians destroyed Jewish businesses and synagogues in November...
ASKED BY RICHARDHISTORY 🕌
In the early 1900s, what did it mean for cities to be "dry"?
The sale and consumption of alchohol was prohibited.
ASKED BY SARAHHISTORY 🕌
What were some of Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms?
Deng Xiaoping broadly introduced market elements to the Chinese economy. He was particularly inspired by the economic model used in Singapore. More ...
ASKED BY TIMHISTORY 🕌
Why did most of the combat on the Western Front in World War I take place in a relatively small area?
Hey Tim, Interesting this is actually a bit of a myth! World war 1 saw combat across the world with battles in Asia, Africa, Northern Italy, Russia ...
ASKED BY MAXHISTORY 🕌
What action on November 11, 1918, brought World War I to an end?
An armistice negotiated between the Allied Powers and Germany. This was in the effect a ceasefire between the two sides - the conflict didn’t formal...
ASKED BY JOEHISTORY 🕌
What was the first country to be founded?
San Marino a microstate within a state surrounded by Italy was founded in 301 AD. It founded originally as a monastery and sits on top of Monte Teti...
ASKED BY ABIGAILHISTORY 🕌
What are the similarities between the American Revolution and Vietnam war?
Hello Abigail, To start with both wars involved one side trying to use standard war strategies while the other side used the landscape and environme...
ASKED BY ELIZABETHHISTORY 🕌
How did oliver feel at the Sowerberrys house (from the book oliver twist )?
Oliver is taken in by Mr Sowerberry who is a likeable man. Having moved out of the workhouse, this was sure to be a relief for Oliver. However, Mrs ...
ASKED BY ANNIEHISTORY 🕌
What was SILENT CINEMA? Why was the term somewhat misleading?
It was a genre of film that had no audible dialogue and the term can be seen as misleading because a lot of the time, the films would not actually b...
Find me a tutor
We take your privacy seriously. View our policy.