African History: from 15th to 19th Century

Our knowledge of the history of Africa comes from oral traditions and artistic representations of the individual peoples, from archaeological finds, linguistic research and from reports from Arab or European travelers and settlers. Written sources are from North and Northeast Africa, v. a. from Egypt and Ethiopia. Chronicles were written in West and East Africa. A wide variety of written sources from African authors and European researchers, missionaries, traders and colonial officials have been available since the 19th century. The individual metropolitan areas of the continent have developed very differently. A periodization of the history of Africa must be based on this.

Great centuries in Central and East Africa

In Central Africa and East Africa as defined by countryaah, too, some peoples have organized themselves into great empires. In the western part of Central Africa a.o. the kingdoms of Loango and Congo. The latter, with the “Mani-Congo” at its head, flourished at the beginning of the 14th century; Agriculture, trade and a distinctive craft (iron processing and fabric production) formed the basis. Through contact with the Portuguese, Christianity took hold, the king was named Alfonso I.(1507–43) baptized and renamed the capital Sâo Salvadore. Due to increasing interventions and the growing export of slaves by the Portuguese, the empire disintegrated after 1550. In the east, coastal cities such as Mombasa, Kilwa and Malindi rose to become political and commercial centers in which the Swahili culture developed. In the southern part of East Africa, rulers from the Shona people created the kingdom of Zimbabwe in the 13th century; it dominated the trade in gold, ivory, iron, copper and cotton in regional and long-distance trade. Around 1500 the Monomotapa Empire took over the supremacy and control of the trade routes.

The beginning of foreign rule from the 15th to the 17th century

In the 15th century a time of more intensive interference by foreign powers began. North Africa, from Egypt to Algeria, came under the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the 16th century. On the west coast of Africa, Europeans began looking for gold, ivory, pepper and then v. a. Slaves. They built fortifications to conduct their trade. African traders and rulers were their partners and organized the slave trade inland. Vasco da Gama circumnavigated West Africa on behalf of the Portuguese crown and found his way to India via the Cape Route (1488). The East African coastal cities were conquered in order to take over their trade and to create supply points for the Indian trade. Portugal created the first colonies in Angola and Mozambique. In 1652 the Dutch East India Company set up a supply station on the Cape, from where the advance of European settlers into the interior and the struggle with the peoples living there for land began.

Centuries of reorganization inside: 16th to 19th centuries

After the collapse of the great empires in western Sudan, smaller empires fought for regional supremacy and control over the trade routes diverted to the coasts by the slave trade, including: Wolof, Walo, Kayor, the kingdom of Fouta-Djalon, the kingdoms of the Bambara and Mossi. In Central Sudan, too, the house states Kano, Katsina, Zaria and Gobir, the empires Bornu, Kanem, Bagirmi, Wadai, Darfur and Kordofan fought for regional supremacy. The entire region was shaped by the expanding slave trade and growing social and religious tensions. In the northeast, Ethiopia has been weakened for centuries by internal power struggles and disputes with neighboring peoples.

In the rainforest zone, larger empires and city-states developed alongside smaller communities. The Ashanti Kingdomrose since the 17th century through the submission of neighboring peoples to the tribute obligation and through the trade in gold and slaves. A complex system of concentration and delegation of political and economic power ensured the wealth of the rulers and the cohesion of the empire. The kingdom of Dahome also sought a state foreign trade monopoly and control of the slave trade in the 18th century. Only slaves that were not needed in their own economy were allowed to be exported. As in Ashanti, wars to secure tribute and to procure slaves were regularly waged. In the coastal region of East Africa, the coastal cities became impoverished under Portuguese rule; they were only able to free themselves in 1729 and conquer the last base of Portugal, Fort Jesus. The area of the great lakes of East Africa has always been the scene of numerous migrations and the establishment of states. In the 17th century, the kingdom could Establish Buganda as the strongest power after the subjugation of the neighboring kingdoms of Bunyoro, Ankole and Karagwe. Productive agriculture, rule over Lake Victoria and the region’s long-distance trade routes as well as the political integration of all clans into the rule of the »Kabaka« formed the backbone of power. Expanding kingdoms emerged in Rwanda and Burundi. In the Congo area the peoples of the Cuba, Luba and Lunda united to form larger empires.

African History - from 15th to 19th Century