Ancient African battles

Throughout the centuries the various African kingdoms and tribes warred with each other for land and power. Just as in many parts of the world, their culture mirrored the same kind of aggressive behavior that was seen in European and Asian countries.

Battle of Isandlwana

Kings and leaders rose and fell and territories shifted with battles won and lost. A majority of the African nations and kingdoms of old didn’t have written histories of their wars and battles, and most clans and tribes depended upon the verbal and sung versions of the stories to relate the tales.

The Battle of Zama

In 202 BC, during the Second Punic War, we see Carthage versus Rome. The Battle of Zama was located in North Africa after Hannibal had taken his victories of fight from Rome to Carthage.

While the Carthaginians put up a good fight, and outnumbered the Romans, Hannibal’s troops managed to win the battle and the war against them, forcing those in Carthage to beg the Romans for peace. This battle is sometimes referred to as the “Second Punic War.”

The Kingdom of Kush against Egypt

The area that we call modern day Sudan was once part of the Kingdom of Kush. Also called “Nubia,” it was first in contact with and later overtaken by ancient Egyptians.

Battle of Zama in the Punic Wars

The Kingdom itself was successful between 1069 BCE and 350 CE, and they were at first heavily influenced by the Egyptian culture.

This was a kingdom that had both kings and queens as rulers. By 1069 BCE, Egypt was at the end of its decline and this allowed the Kushites to fight their way to freedom away from Egyptian rule.

Once established, they became a powerful ruling region, while Egypt itself was falling. 

Sundiata Keita and the Ghana Overthrow

Sundiate Keita was born in the Keita clan near what is now Mali, West Africa. At the time, the Mandinka kingdoms were led by a King Soumaroo Kante.

Sundiate committed his life to trying to overthrow the Ghana Empire and led a battle to try to mobilize the federate kingdom-states in 1230 C.E.

At the time, the main kingdom-state of Kangaba was one of the most important gold mining areas within the Mandinka kingdom-states. By 1235 C.E. the forces that supported the Ghana Empire were led by the Sosso king Soumaoro Kante.

Mali history shows that Kante’s forces attacked the Koulikoro Region of today’s Bamako, Mali for battle.

The African military battle of Kirina is quoted as the last fall of the medieval Ghana Empire and caused the disappearance of Soumaoro into the mountains.

Sundiata was then crowned “Mansa”or the translation of “King of Kings,” and he was later succeeded on the Mali throne by his three sons.

Ancient African Battles

Battle of Mombasa

In the late 16th century there was a battle involving the Ottoman Empire and the Portuguese, involving an indigenous group in Mambasa. At the time, the Ottomans had a major presence in East Africa and in many parts of the world.

The only records of the battle are some vague Portuguese accounts that referenced captured Mombasa members and their statements. The Portuguese sailed to the Mombasa area and attacked them, trapping the Ottomans in the crossfire.

Mutapa Prince against the Portuguese

The Kingdom of Mutapa thrived from the 15th-17th centuries in the areas that we now call Zimbabwe and parts of Zambia and Botswana.

There are two narratives that relate to the way that the kingdom was created, but they both give credit to the warrior Prince Nyatsimba Mutota.

In one story, the Prince has a battle and takes over the Kingdom of Zimbabwe and with the discovery of salt in Tavara, decides to settle there.

The second story shows that there was a collapse of the Great Kingdom of Zimbabwe due to famine, and the Prince escapes and creates the Kingdom of Mutapa.

His successor, Mwenemutapa Matope expanded the kingdom with a strong army, capturing many of the smaller areas and encouraging them to join him.

Mwenemutapa’s goal was to expand trade and his success made the kingdom one of the wealthiest in Southern Africa.

However, the expansion and riches brought the attention of the Portuguese, who decided to take over Mutapa for themselves.

By 1560, the Portuguese invaded and changed Mutapa as part of their Portuguese colonies.


What African Kingdom battled and won against Egypt?


What battle happened between Carthage and Rome in 202 BC?

The Battle of Zama

Modern day Sudan was also known by what other names?

Kush and Nubia

When Sundiata was crowned as “Mansa”, what is the translation of the word?

King of Kings

The Battle of Mombasa involved what three entities?

Ottoman Empire, the Portuguese, and an indigenous group in Mambasa

How many verbal stories are there about the creation of the Kingdom of Mutapa?