There was a time this was not so and the continent had some ancient kingdoms that not only thrived, they left a legacy for historians and students to marvel at.
Here are the five most prominent ancient African kingdom;
The great Benin Empire located in present-day Nigeria was quite prominent during the 13th to 19th centuries. The Kingdom of Benin at the time was famous for its wealth, trade, agriculture, and craftsmanship.
The king was referred to as the Oba and he had commanded both religious and secular authority. Another prominent feature of the Benin Kingdom was the great wall of Benin and also known for its great works of art such as the Benin bronzes.
The kingdom flourished for a while until internal strife and an invasion of British forces ended it in the 19th century.
This was established by the Soninke people and at that time, this empire was popular for its control of vital trade routes across the Sahara Desert and acting as an intermediary between the Arab traders of North Africa and the indigenous peoples of West Africa.
Apart from its thriving economy, the Ghana Kingdom also had great military strength that enabled it to maintain control over its vast territories and protect its trade routes.
But then, things went south in the 11th century CE, when the Ghana Empire faced multiple challenges from external forces until it was succeeded by the Mali Empire.
The Kingdom of Mali was founded by Sundiata Keita, in 1235 and derived its wealth from its gold mines. The Kingdom of Mali at some point had a prominent king – Mansa Musa, the tenth ruler of Mali.
He is popular for his pilgrimage to Mecca where he travelled with enormous amounts of gold that some sources say he would spend so much on his journey that the cities he travelled through will be left with inflation.
Just like the other great African Empires the Mali Kingdom declined due to internal conflict and the invasion that occurred in the late 17th century.
The kingdom of Kush was originally part of Egypt but they later gained their independence and flourished for years to the extent of encroaching the great Roman Empire and securing independence and respect from the Emperor himself.
The Kingdom of Kush was also popular for its power and wealth as well as its monumental structures such as temples, pyramids, and palaces. It would later face a decline due to internal strife, issues with the economy and external pressures.
The Songhai Kingdom grew wealthy through trade in gold and salt as it controlled important trade routes connecting West Africa with North Africa and the Middle East.
Although most of these kingdoms didn’t end well, they marked their place in time and have shaped Africa’s history. It is also a reminder of how great this continent has always been.