Ancient African Wars

When you look at the continent of Africa you realize how large it is and that over the centuries there were many cultures, kingdoms, and rulers of various civilizations.

It has a long tradition as a major part of influence for trade and invention, and has played a part in so much of the exchange of the world from agriculture to art.

Wars of Africa

Africa has also had some major wars over the years; each one involved in the capture and influence of the peoples of its continent.

Today we divide the continent of Africa into the following African countries and republics:

  • North Africa: Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco.
  • Horn of Africa: Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Eritrea.
  • Indian Ocean Islands: Madagascar, Comoros, and Mauritius.
  • African Great Lakes: Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania.
  • West Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, and Western Sahara.
  • Central Africa: Central Africa Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Chad.
  • Southern Africa: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique, Angola, Malawi, Namibia, and Zambia.

Historic Timeline of Wars that Created New Cultures and Kingdoms:

  • 600-1000 CE: The Bantu wars caused them to extend to Southern Africa and the Bantu language became the dominant language in Central and Southern Africa.
  • 639-641 CE: The Islamic leader Khalif Omar conquers Eqypt; Islam then becomes the predominant religion to 1500.
  • 740 CE: The Moors, also known as Islamized Africans, invade the country of Spain and maintain rule until 1492. The Moors influence in the area included engineering, agriculture, industry, mining, scholarship, and architecture, which allowed Spain to become a center for learning and culture in Europe for nearing 800 years.
  • 800-1100 CE: The trans-Sahara gold trade was due to creating trade routes. Various wars in a lot of kingdoms resulted in the emergence of successful cultures trading in gold, slaves, kola nuts, utensils, salt, and cloth. Trade eventually created the great empires of Mali, Songhai, and Ghana.
  • 1000 CE: The Soninke people of the Ghana Empire are at the height of their power as one of the three great West African states. Their armies are equipped with iron weapons and the various wars that they have allow them to conquer and control the routes extending from today’s Morocco to Nubia in the East, and the southern coastal forests.
  • 1076 CE: The Moroccan Berber army was led by religious reformers that were called Almoravids, and they attacked Ghana. The wars caused internal disorganization that eventually led to the loss of control of the empire to the Soninkes. After years, there was an emergence of smaller states including Kangaba which eventually became the Mali Empire.
  • 13thCentury CE: This was the rise of the Mali Empire which was located near rich agriculture and gold mines. The rise was due to both large and small conflicts and wars that allowed several prior kingdoms that didn’t survive long.
  • 1235 CE: Led by Sunjaya Keita (or Sundiata Keita), the smaller state of Kangaba had a war in 1235 against a local kingdom of Susa and the Battle of Kirina. This allowed the unification under Sundjata so that it eventually expanded to become the Mali Empire.
  • Post-1400 CE: A series of disputes begin the downfall of the Mali Empire and this led to the takeover by the Empire of Songhai. The Songhai are known for being the first culture to be completely independent.
  • 14thCentury CE: This was a time for both turmoil and organization. Many advances states were formed due to major and minor wars and skirmishes in the areas between what are currently known as Lakes Edward and Victoria. The cultures of the Engaruka in Tanzania and the rulers of Rwanda in the south and the Bantu people became more solidified. The trade exchanges over the years allowed the assimilation and exchange of so many cultures and created mixed Arab-African ancestries.
  • 14th-15thCenturies CE: As smaller empires arose and collapsed, and varying warring tribes tried to take over, there was a rise of the Great Zimbabwe. These were the ancestors of the southeastern African Shona people and they created incredible stone architecture of the Karanga. Through battles, they expanded their influence from the Zambezi River to the Kalahari, and then to the Limpopo River and the Indian Ocean. The Mwene Mutapa Empire was created by the Karanga people, with a majority of their wealth coming from major gold mining activities.

African military systems to 1800


What ancient African group brought culture and invention to old Spain?

the Moors

Which Islamic leader conquered Egypt?

Khalif Omar

What army was led by religious reformers and they attacked Ghana?

Moroccan Berber

Which wars caused the Bantu language to be predominant in Central and Southern Africa?

The Bantu wars

What ancient African kingdom rose from the 14th to the 15th centuries whose wealth was mainly based on gold mining?

The Great Zimbabwe

What were the three greatest ancient African empires from 800-1100 CE?

Mali, Songhai, and Ghana