View Full Version : African Empires


Tariq
Nov 14, 2001, 04:13 PM
I recently picked up a minor in African studies, and it has become increasingly apparent that there were some great kingdoms down there that get no respect. Many of these empires outshadowed their European contemporaries by far.

Ghana, Mali, & Songhai were all pretty damn impressive, and where do you think Europe and the Middle East got all of their gold from?

Benin, Dahomey, Asante etc were military powers and were the first to make contact with the European explorers. Many of the slaves exported to the Americas came from these kingdoms.

Great Zimbabwe exhibited excellent architecture. In fact, when German explorers came upon the ruins of the city, they surmised that Africans were not capable of such work and it must have been done by an ancient white civilization.

I think Firaxis should have included more than one African empire. Egypt doesn't really count, and Carthage didn't on the second game. Western Africa is wide open, and any of the first six kingdoms I mentioned would have been great.

Dahomey would have been particularly interesting, as the special unit could have been the king's all-female unit, the Amazons. I think I might have to create that :goodjob:

What does everyone else think?

Sodak
Nov 15, 2001, 12:05 PM
Hear, hear!

The civs you list were indeed impressive. Don't forget the Ethiopians, tho. Altho they went thru numerous political upheavals, they have been an advanced people for thousands of years. And they gave the world coffee. :D

I've made a modpack for CivII for each continent. Doing the research for these was fun, as it opened up new details about other parts of the world. For instance, I knew about the Asante, Mali, Benin, and Zimbabwe (the latter due to a friend who has been obsessed with Z for ten years - she lived there briefly and hasn't shut up about it since! :) ), but not about others. Yes, firaxis should have included some in exchange for a euro civ or two - but remember where all the PCs are today, and who will buy the game. It is a company, after all, not an educational organization.

Vrylakas
Nov 15, 2001, 12:25 PM
Tariq,

You're right that the old African kingdoms are much neglected in international historical circles nowadays, for many reasons. The main one is that they had minimal interaction with the outside world while they were at their peak; the eastern coastal kingdoms had some trade with the subcontinent and Asia but that soon degenerated into the slave trade that the Europeans would take over later. Eurasia, for all its conflicts and wars, has a long history of interaction from Portulgal to China, but sub-Saharan Africa has only minimally taken part in all that interaction - mostly because geographically it's removed and out of the way. Only in the later periods of Arab and European history would Eurasians penetrate sub-Saharan Africa beyond the coasts - and by then of course it was as conquerers.

The African kingdoms have been cursed by their bad timing, essentially. When the Europeans came upon the Central American kingdoms, they saw first hand that while in some ways technologically inferior, they were very socially and politically sophisticated, which gave them in European eyes a certain amount of respect and interest. The Africans that the Europeans met, in contrast, were among the most primitively-organized tribal peoples which with extremely few exceptions (Ethiopia) convinced the Europeans that they were incapable of civilization. By the time Europeans showed up, all the old African kingdoms were either gone or in such a state of decline as to be almost unrecognizable. That stereo-type still lingers in Western eyes today, and it shows in Civ II. The Zulus were a militant tribe who conquered and slaughtered all their neighboring tribes and are most remembered for their near-successful challenge to British colonial rule, but in terms of architecture, social organization, politics or philosophy their achievements are nil. The West sees them as representative. This is why when independence from colonial rule came for some African states, they chose names ("Ghana", "Zimbabwe") of the old medieval African kingdoms, even though the modern countries have no relation whatsoever politically, historically or geographically with the medieval kingdoms with these same names.

Julien
Nov 17, 2001, 08:05 AM
Does anyone know a good link on the history/culture of African kingdoms ?