Five Influential African Empires

Africa has some of the most fascinating ancient empires you may want to know about. In this article, we will take you through some of these greatest empires. Check out these facts about five African kingdoms that left their impact on history, from prehistoric Sudan to medieval Zimbabwe.

  1. The Mali Empire

The Mali Empire was established in the 1200s after a king by the name of Sundiata Keita—sometimes referred to as the “Lion King”—led a rebellion against a Sosso king and brought his people together to form a new empire. With time, the empire became so large that got the attention of the world.  Timbuktu and Djenne became tourist areas because of their Islamic schools and beautiful mosques.

Sankore University in Timbuktu was one notable establishment, and it included a library featuring an estimated 700,000 manuscripts. The Mali Empire eventually fell apart in the 16th century, but during its zenith, it was one of the gems of the continent of Africa and was admired all over the world for its luxury and affluence.

Myth had it that the monarch called Mansa Musa was architect to the wealth of the kingdom. History had it that Musa came to Egypt when he was visiting Mecca.  Musa was generous in giving out gold to the people he interacted with in Eqypt and the price of God was reduced in the market.

2. The Land of Kush

The Kingdom of Kush was a powerful region for years before Eygpt overpowered it in a war.  For instance, Kush was known in Africa for its wealth and strength.  It got its sources from Eygpt and became a vibrant economic hub for people looking for precious metals and other items.

The kingdom absorbed many of its neighbour’s practices and was both a trading partner and a military adversary of Egypt, even ruling Egypt during the 25th Dynasty. With time, Kushites started building different pyramids and took after Egypt in mummifying the dead.  Therefore, the Kushites had more than two hundred ruins, and also some gods borrowed from Egypt, especially around Meroe.

3. The Land of Punt

Only a few African civilizations are quite as enigmatic as Punt.  Historically, Punt was referred to as the “Land of the Gods,” and it was a wealthy place with various items like myrrh, gold, ebony, and other rich artifacts. These historical accounts of the empire date to circa 2500 B.C. The location of the fabled kingdom is currently a contentious subject among academics.

Although the Arabian Peninsula and the Levant have been suggested as prospective options, most of the populace believes it probably existed along the East African Red Sea coast.

4. Carthage

Carthage, well-known as Rome’s adversary in the Punic Wars, was a prosperous North African trade center for more than 500 years. The city-state was initially a Phoenician town in what is presently Tunisia in the 8th or 9th century B.C., but it later expanded into a vast nautical empire that dominated trade in textiles, gold, silver, and copper. At its height, the nation’s capital city had almost 500,000 residents and a protected harbour with 220 ship docking berths.

Eventually, Carthage’s power spread from North Africa to Spain and parts of the Mediterranean, but its desire for growth caused it to clash more frequently with the developing Roman Republic. In 264 B.C. three violent Punic Wars ensued among ancient superpowers and ended in 146 B.C.. Presently, Tunis is home to a number of ruins that are essentially all that’s left of the once-powerful empire.

5. The Kingdom of Aksum

The renowned Kingdom of Aksum ruled over portions of what now constitutes Eritrea and northern Ethiopia during the time when the Roman Empire rose and fell. Not much is known of Aksum’s early history but by the second or third century A.D.

The kingdom used one of the first recorded languages in Africa, Ge’ez. ll. A political and militaristic relationship with the Byzantines ensued from Aksum’s adoption of Christianity as one of the world’s first empires in the fourth century. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which was the empire’s religious legacy, still survives today.

Today, you may not see any of these kingdoms, but they formed the basis of some of the flourishing countries in Africa. We cannot talk about the economic growth happening in Africa without these kingdoms.