The Different Central African Kingdoms

Central Africa or Middle Africa is a sizable region that is covered with savanna grasslands and rainforest. It is located within the west of the Great Rift River Valley, the east of Eastern Africa, and the south of the Sahara Desert.

For more than a millennium, Central Africa has been home to some of the world’s most prominent kingdoms.

Oracle Bone Script

Among the first civilizations that rose within the area is the Sao Empire which is now known as modern-day Cameroon and Chad. It is widely believed that the Sao Empire started around the 5th century B.C.E.

Kingdom of Zimbabwe

Apart from the Sao civilization, one of the most famous Central African Kingdoms in history was the Kingdom of Zimbabwe which ruled for two centuries and rose into supremacy at around 1200 C.E. The Kingdom of Zimbabwe had a population of at least 15,000 people.

The Kingdom of Zimbabwe also had a monopoly on the trade of ivory and gold from the southeastern coast of the continent to the interior.

People living within the area were also considered as highly-skilled miners that specialized in mining minerals such as gold, copper, and iron.

Kingdom of Kongo

The Kingdom of Kongo, on the other hand, started to rise into during the end of 1300 C.E. It ruled Central Africa for almost six centuries before it was colonized by Portugal in the 19th century.

The Kingdom of Kongo started to collapse in the late 1800s as a result of the trading of slaves. Monikongo Alfonso I tried to put an end to slave trading but he was unsuccessful.

Kingdom of Mutapa

Meanwhile, the Kingdom of Mutapa ruled a significant region in Central Africa. It was initially launched in 1430 C.E. by the leader of Zimbabwe.

Similar to the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, Mutapa also became a center for mining gold and trading ivory after it established trade relations with Portugal in the 15th century.

Kingdom of Luba

Launched in Central Africa in 1585, the Kingdom of Luba was headed by a Mulpwe or King and Bamfumus or the group of elderly residents.

Llunga Mbili was the first ruler of the Kingdom of Luba. His second son, Tshibinda Llunga was the founder of the Kingdom of Lunda.

Oracle Bone Script

Kingdom of Lunda

Founded in 1665 by Tshibinda Llunga, the Kingdom of Lunda ruled Central Africa for nearly two centuries.

It extended to the east by conquering other territories, but, however, its growth started to decline when European powers arrived and conquered the region in the late 1800s.

Interesting Facts about Central African Kingdoms

  • Kalala Llunga who is the eldest son of Llunga Mbili is considered as the greatest of the Luba kings.
  • The king of the Kongo Empire was called as Monikongo.
  • Portuguese initially brought Christianity to the Kingdom of Kongo in 1483 after building trade relations with the African state.
  • The Kingdom of Mutapa is now surrounded by modern day Zimbabwe, South Africa, Lesotho, Zambia, Swaziland, and Mozambique.
  • The Luba Kingdom cultivated maize and cassava.
  • At present, the large towers and stone walls of Great Zimbabwe still exists.
  • The Kingdom of Mutapa is considered as the largest Central African Kingdom.
  • The Kingdom of Kongo was conquered by the Portuguese in 1914.

What are the modern day countries that cover the Kingdom of Kongo?

The Kingdom of Kongo is located across parts of what is now Gabon, the Republic of Congo, and Angola.

When did the Kingdom of Mutapa collapse?

The Kingdom of Mutapa collapsed in 1759 after the start of the civil war and the death of their king.

Why did the Kingdom of Kongo fall through?

The Kingdom of Kongo was dissolved due to slave trading.

How long did the Kingdom of Luba last?

The Kingdom of Luba lasted from 1585 to 1889.