History of North Africa and Egypt

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History of Africa varied considerably in the first of the second millennium C.E.
Some areas essentially untouched Others profoundly impacted by foreigners
• Notably Europeans and the Islamic world

This chapter will examine
The spread of Islam The rise of substantial empires and kingdoms Increasing European influence

North Africa and Egypt
Feisty regionalism characterized states north of Sahara
No power controlled them for long

By 1800 Ottoman domains in Africa were independent
Morocco was the only North African sultanate to remain fully independent after 1700 Arab and Berber population united after 1500 to oppose the Portuguese and the Spaniards

Spread of Islam South of Sahara
Islamic influence in sub-Saharan Africa began as early as the eighth century
By 1800 it affected most of Sudanic belt Coast of East Africa as far south as Zimbabwe

Islam rarely penetrated beyond merchant class
Tended to coexist with indigenous practices

Islam did bring commercial and political changes
Many innovations depended on writing and literacy

Spread to West and East Africa
In East Africa – Muslim traders began to “Islamize” ports before 800
Trading communities and city states developed from the 13th century on

By contrast, western and central Africa were introduced to Islam by overland routes But agents in both cases were merchants
West – mainly Berbers going to trading centers
• Awdaghast, Kumbi

985 – Gao – first Islamic west African court

Almoravids and Fulani
Zealous militants known as Almoravids
Began an overt conversion campaign in 1030’s Taking Awdaghast, then Kumbi in 1076 Forcibly converted Soninke in Ghana

Fulbe (Fulani) along Senegal became Islamic
Fulani remained important carrier of Islam

Some groups in West Africa resisted Islamization
Mossi kingdoms in Volta region at Wagadugu around 1050 and Yatenga around 1170

Model for later empires of western Sudan
Ghanaian kingdoms as early as 400 C.E. Regional power by around 1000 C.E.

Soninke - main population group Matrilineal descent for kings
Kings ruled with council of ministers King is still supreme judge Sense of being divinely blessed

Ghana – Economic Foundation
Ghana had a solid economic base
Tribute from chieftaincies Taxes on royal lands and crops Dominated trade
• Control over gold and slave trade

Kings did not convert to Islam
But accommodated Muslims traders Literate Muslims administered the government

Empire destroyed by Soso people

Keita ruling clan formed Mali Empire
Ghanaian successor kingdom

Same economic base as Ghana
Domination of gold and slave land trade Also dominated trade on Niger River

Malinke – core population Keita dynasty converted early to Islam
Claimed descent from Bilal
• Muhammad’s famous muezzin

Sundiata – r. 1230-1255
Imperial power built by Sundiata (Sunjaata)
Topic of west African epic Sundiata Dominated land and river trade West to Atlantic, east to beyond Timbuktu

Niani – capital Empire encompassed three major regions
Senegal – Fulbe, Tukulor, Wolof, Serer Central Mande states – Soninke, Mandinke Gao region of Niger – people spoke Songhai

Mansa Musa – r. 1312-1337
Greatest Mali king
Devout Muslim

Famous pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324
Gave away so much gold in Cairo on way
• Inflation for a decade

Returned with Muslim scholars

Timbuktu becomes Islamic center
Famous for madrasas and libararies Leading intellectual center of sub-Saharan

Centered around city of Gao
Overthrew Mali power around 1375

Sonni Ali – r. 1464-1492
Greatest Sunni ruler Adhered to traditional African religion Most powerful state in Africa Strong military
• Riverboat flotilla and cavalry • Captured Jenne and Timbuktu

Askia Muhammad al-Turi
Askia Muhammad al-Turi – r. 1493-1528
Powerful Songhai successor to Sonni Ali

Continued expansionist policies Enthusiastic Muslim
Built mosques throughout realm Appointed Muslim judges (qadis) Made his own pilgrimage to Mecca
• “Caliph of the western Sahara”

Continued development of Timbuktu

Confederation of Zaghawah nomadic tribes
Settled in Kanam

Mai Dunama Dibbalemi – r. 1221-1259
Key leader in military expansion

Transformation of Kanuri leaders
From nomadic shaykh to Sudanic king

Kanem’s dominance was of two kinds
Direct control over taxation and tribute Indirect control over tribute from vassals

After 1400 the center of power shifted east
Bornu, southwest of Lake Chad

New Kanuri empire in sixteenth century Idris Alawma – r. 1575-1610
Unified Kanem and Bornu Islamic state

Power destroyed by around 1700
Famine, weak leadership, Tuareg attacks Dynasty carried on until 1846

Eastern Sudan
Christian states of Maqurra and Alwa
In Nubia – seventh century for around 600 years

Interference from Mamluks
Islamic pressures

Gradual disappearance of Christianity
Associated with foreign Egyptian world Both states become Islamized – fifteenth century

Funj state – replaces Alwa
Islamic state – unique Arabized character

Benin – forest kingdom in West Africa
Edo speakers – modern southern Nigeria Patrilineal system – primogeniture

Oba – king
Uzama – leaders who limited power of oba

King Ewuare – rebuilt capital city Edo
Tradition of military kingship Transformation of oba – religious figure
• Supernatural powers – human sacrifice

Benin Art
Court art – lasting significance of Benin
Terra-cotta, ivory, brass statuary sculpture Wholly indigenous African products
• Might trace back to ancient Nok culture

Depiction of legendary and historical scenes
Mounted in palace at Benin City

Brass heads found at Ife
Represent the Oni
• Religious chief of ancient Ife

Growing European presence on western coasts
Senegambia – Senegal and Gambia Rivers Long role in trans-Saharan trade

One of first areas impacted by European trade
Gold, cotton, hides, copper Active in slave trade for around a century Slaves – one-third of all African slaves exported in the sixteenth century came from Senegambia Eventually slave trade moved further south

Gold Coast
Impacted by arrival of international maritime trade
Southern outlet of gold trade Portuguese at Elmina in 1481

Europeans built coastal forts after 1500
Depots for inland goods

Trade encouraged growth of large states Introduction of American crops
Maize and cassava

Slaves became big business in 1600s
Eventually more gold from slave trade than from mining

Kongo Kingdom
Portuguese come to Central Africa for slaves Kongo – major state Portuguese dealt with
Strong central government Kings – spiritual spokesman for gods/ancestors

Exports – slaves
Imports – fine clothing, tobacco, alcohol Initial efforts at Christian proselytizing

Local rulers attacked neighbors for slaves
To acquire more slaves to sell to Portuguese

Affonso I – r. ca. 1506-1543
Affonso I was a Christian convert
Welcomed Jesuit missionaries, conversion

Eventually broke with Jesuits
Encouraged traditional practices Intolerance of Christians, growth of slave trade Bloodshed between two sides

Kongo resurgence in the seventeenth century
Christianity as state religion
• Accommodated to ancestor cult, magic

Ndongo kingdom
Mbundu people Experience even worse than that of Kongo

Portuguese tried to make Angola a colony
By end of 1500s, Angola was exporting thousands of slaves a year Hinterland depopulated

Maize and cassava brought changes in interior
Coastal region – Portuguese-led disaster

East Africa
Participation of East African port towns in lucrative South-Seas trade was ancient Arabs, Indonesians, some Indians
Many absorbed into Bantu-speaking population Area from Somalia south

Islam – Arab and Persian sailors and merchants
Arabs called the land Zanj (“Blacks”)

Muslim traders began to dominate coastal cities
Mogadishu to Kilwa

Swahili Culture
Swahili – common language
Arab word sawahil – “coastlands” Interaction of Bantu and Arabic speakers

Swahili culture is basically Africa
With Arab, Persian, extra-African elements

Swahili language and culture
Developed first in northern towns
• Manda, Lamu, Monbasa

Remained localized on the coast

Swahili Commerce
Swahili civilization’s peak – fourteenth through fifteenth centuries
Swahili ruling dynasties probably African
• Admixture of Arab or Persian blood

Society – three groups
Nobility, commoners, foreigners Slaves constituted a fourth class

Exports – ivory, gold, slaves, ebony
Imports – cloth, porcelain, glassware

Portuguese and the Omanis
Swahili civilization decline in the sixteenth century
Portuguese destruction of
• Old oceanic trade • Main Islamic city-states along the coast

Long-term influence of Portuguese is scarce

Oman – strong eastern Arabian state
Captured Mombasa – ejected Portuguese Zanzibar – new and major power center Clove cultivation

“Great Zimbabwe”
Purely African society in southeastern Africa
Never impacted by Islam Bantu-speaking Shona people

Large, prosperous state – thirteenth through fifteenth centuries
“Great Zimbabwe” Two major building complexes Chinese, Syrian, Persian glass and porcelain

Link to the East African coast – thirteenth century
Eventual split into northern and southern states

Portugal and Southeastern Africa
Goal was to acquire gold from interior
Little lasting profit from venture Fortified posts along Zambezi River

Conflict in southeastern Africa
Portuguese defeated by Changamire Shona

Creation of quasi-tribal chiefdoms
Prazeros – mixed-blood Portuguese landholders Clanlike groups of mixed-blood members Destabilizing influence in region

Cape Colony
Dutch are first arrivals
Initially a resupply point and way station Eventual growth of large settler community

Khoikhoi – pastoralists
No strong political organization Bartered livestock with Dutch
• For iron, copper and tobacco

Khoikhoi fall under Dutch control by 1670’s
Chief source of colonial wage labor

Khoikhoi identified with imported slaves
Stripped of own pasturages by 1700 Way of life being destroyed Smallpox arrives in the eighteenth century

Trekboers – nomadic white livestock farmers Afrikaners – Trekboers and settled colonists
Laws designed to halt mixing between Afrikaners and Africans Sociopolitical foundations of later apartheid

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