The pre-colonial history of Africa has been pieced together from archaeological findings, oral tradition, and the records of Arab and other alien chroniclers, such as Ibn Battuta, who travelled widely in the Muslim world in the fourteenth century. A good deal is now known, for example, of the richness of the Egyptian civilisation of the pre-Christian era, of the medieval empires of the Western Sudan — Ghana, Mali and Songhai — and of the forest kingdoms which subsequently emerged in West Africa. Some of these kingdoms extended at the height of their power over a wide area and were underpinned by a centralised bureaucracy. Such was Ashanti, which was founded at the end of the seventeenth century, but about whose internal organisation little was known until Thomas Bowdich and Joseph Dupuis visited Kumasi, the Ashanti capital, in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Benin (in present-day Nigeria) was another powerful kingdom, which, according to oral tradition, had been founded by immigrants from Ife some three centuries before the coming of the Portuguese; possibly these immigrants brought with them the technique of casting in bronze which in Benin, as in Ife, resulted in sculpture of world renown.
KeywordsCash Crop Gold Coast Colonial Rule Colonial Power European Power
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