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10 Pre-Colonial African Kingdoms You Probably Don’t Know About


Nok Culture (500 B.C. to 200 A.D.)

The Nok Culture spanned the end of the Neolithic (Stone Age) and start of the Iron Age in sub-Saharan Africa. One of the earliest African centers of iron-working and terracotta figure production, the Nok Culture remains an enigma. The Nok were an extremely advanced society, with one of the most complex judicial systems of the time, and the earliest producers of life-sized terracotta in the Sub-Sahara.


Kingdom of Ghana (ninth century to 13th century)

It was commonly known as the “land of gold” since the gold trade was largely responsible in developing Ghana into a powerful and centralized kingdom. The residents developed their own mining techniques and traded with other regions in Africa and Europe. Around 1054, the Almoravid rulers conquered the Kingdom of Ghana and converted the people to Islam.

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15 thoughts on “10 Pre-Colonial African Kingdoms You Probably Don’t Know About

  1. What no Ta Seti, no Kmt? These are also pre-colonial African Kingdoms, but much older…

  2. Wendy Fen says:


  3. Biyi Simoyan says:

    There were also the Benin kingdom, whom Dutch explorers said was comparable to Haarlem in 1652, Oyo empire, Timbuktu, Zaria, Kanem Bornu, all in West Africa and the great Zimbabwe kingdom in Southern Africa. They all had highly developed political systems. I think Nok is actually older than all of these I think.

  4. Chris White says:

    Kush dates from at least 4500 BC and medu neter was in use there in 4200 BC, before Kemet and 1,000 years before Sumer was writing. Kush is the oldest recorded monarchy…so it's the oldest known civilization. Soninke also dates to around 4,000 BC, not much younger than Kemet. Geologists date the Sphinx to around 10,000 BC at least, and based on astronomical dating the Giza complex dates to at least the same time…so either Kemet began during the last ice age, or there was an even greater African civilization that preceded her. Hell, all the oldest civilizations are black.

  5. Considering the spread of our species started in Africa, and the culture of the varied Bushmen/San people of Namibia constitute some of the oldest, most traditional/ancient communities in the world, it's in no way surprising some/many/most/insert word of the oldest known civilizations we have are African/Black.

    And that's just awesome. I think it's time I bust out some of my African history books; there's a few names here I don't know about, and I plan on learning.

  6. Jasmine Rida says:

    I beg to differ. Ghana(im ghanaian) was never a muslim country. The people that now occupy the northern parts of ghana, that have a large muslim community, came from nigeria.

  7. Empire of Ghana and modern day Ghana are two different things. The former was the predecessor of the Mali and Songhay Empire and the latter, well you know better than I do 🙂

  8. Jasmine Rida Ghana took its name from the empire that was centered north west of modern day Ghana. You are also confusing Northern Ghanaians with the Hausa language which many can speak, many northern Ghanaian ethnic groups (like the Dagombas) have been there for centuries as long as Akans further south. Ghana since its independence has been a multi-religious country.

  9. Brad Hoehne says:

    You could expand this list by including the 13th-15th century Kingdom of Zimbabwe for which there is evidence of massive trading with much of Indian ocean region, and the nearby, even larger, Empire of Rowze which peaked in the 17th and 18th centuries and managed to hold off Portuguese Colonization for a few hundred years.

  10. Brad Hoehne says:

    Kush was indeed quite old, but the idea that the Sphinx (not related to Kush at its construction) is 10,000 years old is a fairly crank-ish idea. Egypt was pretty amazing without adding very weakly supported ideas to the mix. The construction dates of the pyramids are extremely well supported by archaeological evidence- we know for whom they were built, from where the stone was quarried, and we even know the names of the main architects.

  11. I really try to read and support this site but I refuse to scrol through 5 web pages for one story

  12. Abe Drayton says:

    Honorable mention: the Hehe tribe from the Iringa region of Tanzania – it was on its way to being its own nation, with diplomatic relations with the Omani empire, when the Germans decided to move in with artillery.

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