So often in school our exposure to Black History begins with the Ancient Egyptians then jumps to the enslavement of African people. But what happened in between?
Due to a Eurocentric education system, we’re led to believe Africans were/are primitive people that were “saved by colonists” that exposed these “savage people” to their European ways. This is so far from the truth. The entire continent of Africa is filled with a long and abundant history of people that made strides in architecture, speech, navigation, and law. There were bountiful civilizations pre-slavery that existed independently from Egyptian history and culture. While yes, the Egyptians made numerous achievements in math, science, technology, and medicine; there were numerous Black civilizations with rich cultures and histories of their own.
For example the Meroë kingdom, which dates back to around 1000 BCE and lasted for 9 centuries after the establishment of their capital in 300 BCE. A cool fact about the Meroitës is that for a majority of their history they were under the rule of queens (with no male intervention). In fact, Queen Amanirenus led an army of Meroitës to victory in 24 BCE in battle against the Romans. The Romans were never able conquer the Meroitës. However, the Meroitës were able to keep a positive business relationship with the Romans. Due to the Meroitic’s large production of iron, the two kingdoms held a long lasting and lucrative trade agreement.
After hundreds of years of building a successful and powerful empire the Meroites slowly went into decline, for reasons unknown. Then in circa 350 AD, the powerful Abyssinian (modern day Ethiopia) army attacked and conquered the Meroe capital state, ending the kingdoms reign.
If you’re interested in learning more about vast history of the various African civilizations pre-slavery check out a few of these books:
The Royal Kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay – Life in Medieval Africa by McKissack, Patricia & Fredrick Mckissack.
Wonders of the African World by Lynn Davis & Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Before The Slave Trade: African World History in Pictures, published by Black History Studies Publications
Introduction to the History of African Civilization: Precolonial Africa by C. Magbaily Fyle