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Empires and Kingdoms

  • Asante Kingdom
    From Encyclopedia of African History
    Osei Tutu, ruler of Asante from 1701 to 1717, stands out as one of the most important figures in Asante history. He finalized the long task of nation building initiated by Twum and Antwi, the first two Asante rulers.
  • Dahomey
    From Encyclopedia of African History
    The kingdom was an absolute monarchy, quite unlike the surrounding traditional kingdoms.
  • Empire of Ghana
    From Encyclopedia of African History
    The ancient kingdom of Ghana was founded in the western part of the savanna region of West Africa.
  • Empire of Mali
    From Encyclopedia of African History
    One of the great empires of the Middle Ages.
  • Empire of Songhay
    From Africa and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History
    The Songhay Empire was an African kingdom that began in the fifteenth century and grew to prominence in the sixteenth century. MORE
  • Fulbe (Fulani) Empire
    From Greenwood Encyclopedia of International Relations
    Although most nomadic Fulbe remained animist, more and more were converted to Islam by marabouts in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This later conversion endowed them with a religious fervor that had long since subsided among older and more settled Muslim peoples. MORE
  • Great Zimbabwe
    From Encyclopedia of Archaeology: History and Discoveries
    Great Zimbabwe existed for over 500 years as a bustling center of trade and commerce, and it politically dominated the surrounding valley and plateaus. MORE
  • Mossi States
    From Britannica Concise Encyclopedia
    Complex of independent western African kingdoms (c. 1500-1895) around the headwaters of the Volta River, within present-day Burkina Faso and Ghana. MORE
  • Oyo Empire
    From Encyclopedia of African History
    By 1400, Oyo, which was farther to the north at the margins of the forest and savanna, became the dominant commercial and political city of the Yoruba. MORE
  • Timbuktu
    From Encyclopedia of African History
    According to local tradition and an indigenous chronicle written in the seventeenth century, the Tarikh es Soudan, the city was founded in approximately 1100 as a seasonal nomad camp. MORE
  • Tukolor Empire
    From Greenwood Encyclopedia of International Relations
    The Tukolor were essentially Fulbe who had long settled in Muslim towns. MORE


  • Prester John
    From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather guide
    Legendary Christian prince. From the 14th to the 16th century, he was generally believed to be the king of Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) in northeast Africa.


  • Chief Shaka
    From An African Biographical Dictionary
    Chief Shaka forged a new nation out of an assortment of Nguni clans and made this Zulu people one of the greatest powers of Africa in his time. MORE
  • Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406)
    From Encyclopedia of African History
    One of the outstanding figures of medieval Muslim culture, ‘Abd al-Rahman Ibn Muhammad Ibn Khaldun was an incisive witness to the political fragmentation and warfare that followed the late-thirteenth-century collapse of the Almohad Empire in North Africa. MORE
  • Mansa Musa
    From An African Biographical Dictionary
    King of the Mali empire during a united and prosperous period, is known primarily (and perhaps unfairly) for his lavish and ostentatious pilgrimage to Mecca. MORE
  • Muhammad Ali
    From The Columbia Encyclopedia 1769?–1849, pasha of Egypt after 1805. Credited for his many domestic reforms, which hastened the foundations for an independent Egypt. MORE
  • Osei Tutu
    From An African Biographical Dictionary
    Osei Tutu, asantehene (king) of Asante from 1680, established the traditions of the Asante nation and founded the Asante Union. MORE
  • Saint Lalibela
    From An African Biographical Dictionary
    St. Lalibela was an Ethiopian monarch and church builder. The penultimate king of the Zagwe dynasty, he was the most renowned, especially for the 11 rock-hewn churches built in his capital. MORE
  • Sundiata
    From Africa and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History
    Born around 1202, Sundiata Keita is the most beloved and celebrated hero in Mali and was the first emperor of Mali. MORE
  • Uthman dan Fodio (1754-1817)
    From Greenwood Encyclopedia of International Relations
    Spiritual leader of the great nineteenth-century jihad by the Fulbe of West Africa, and first sultan of Sokoto. MORE


  • Christianity: Topic Page
    Religion founded in Palestine by the followers of Jesus.
  • Indigenous Religion
    From Encyclopedia of African History
    By the end of the colonial period, half of Africans remained practitioners of their indigenous religions.
  • Islam: Topic Page
    Major world religion founded by Muhammad in Arabia in the early 7th century AD.
  • Precolonial Christian Missionaries
    From Encyclopedia of African History
    Christianity flourished in Africa before it made its way to western and northern Europe.
  • Vodou: Topic Page
    Native W African religious beliefs and practices that also has adherents in the New World.

Trade and Technology

  • Gold Production and Trade in West Africa
    From Encyclopedia of African History
    Gold was an important staple in the trans-Saharan trade. The lure of gold spurred the Portuguese exploration down the African coast.
  • Saharan and Trans-Saharan Trade
    From Encyclopedia of World Trade From Ancient Times to the Present
    Trade both within and across the Sahara has existed since prehistoric times, when the Sahara was considerably less dry, to the present.

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