Bornu Empire (1380–1893)
The Bornu Empire was a state of what is now northeastern Nigeria. It was a continuation of the great Kanem Empire founded centuries earlier by the Sayfawa Dynasty. In time, it would become even larger than Kanem, incorporating areas that are today parts of Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
Sao Civilization (sixth century B.C. to late 16th century A.D.)
The Sao civilization flourished in Middle Africa from around the sixth century B.C. to as late as the 16th century A.D. The Sao lived by the Chari River south of Lake Chad in territory that later became part of Cameroon and Chad. Sao artifacts show that they were skilled workers in bronze, copper and iron.
The Shilluk Kingdom was centered in South Sudan from the 15th century along a strip of land on the western bank of White Nile. After 1650, the Shilluk population (despite its diversity) appeared to gain a sense of national unity, accompanied by a strengthening of royal authority. The monarch, known as the Reth, and a more-centralized government established a monopoly of economic resources and trade.
The Kanem Empire (circa 700–1376)
At its height, the Kanem Empire encompassed an area covering not only much of Chad but also parts of southern Libya (Fezzan) and eastern Niger, northeastern Nigeria and northern Cameroon. The empire reportedly was able to field 40,000 cavalry. By the late 11th century, the Islamic Sayfawa (Saifawa) dynasty was founded by Humai (Hummay) ibn Salamna. The Sayfawa Dynasty ruled for 771 years, making it one of the longest-lasting dynasties in human history.
Wadai Empire (1635–1912)
The Wadai Empire or Sultanate was a kingdom located to the east of Lake Chad in present-day Chad and in the Central African Republic. The sultanate expanded its power as it profited considerably from its strategic position astride the trans-Saharan trade routes. The militaristic Wadai fought French domination until being overcome on June 6, 1909. Resistance continued until 1912.
The kingdom of Baguirmi existed as an independent state during the 16th and 17th centuries southeast of Lake Chad in what is now the country of Chad. Baguirmi emerged to the southeast of the Kanem-Bornu Empire. The kingdom’s first ruler was Mbang Birni Besse. During periods of strength, the sultanate became imperialistic. It established control over small feudal kingdoms on its peripheries and entered into alliances with nearby nomadic people.
Kingdom of Mapungubwe (1075–1220)
The kingdom of Mapungubwe was a pre-colonial state in southern Africa located at the confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo rivers south of Great Zimbabwe. The kingdom, which built stone walls to mark important areas, was the first stage in a development that would culminate in the creation of the kingdom of Zimbabwe in the 13th century and with gold-trading links to Rhapta and Kilwa Kisiwani on the African east coast. The kingdom of Mapungubwe lasted about 70 years. At its height, its population was about 5,000 people.
Ajuran Empire (13th century – late 17th century )
The Ajuran Sultanate was a Somali Muslim empire that ruled over large parts of the Horn of Africa in the Middle Ages. The empire left an extensive architectural legacy, being one of the major medieval Somali powers engaged in castle- and fortress-building. Many of the ruined fortifications dotting the landscapes of southern Somalia today are attributed to the Ajuran Sultanate’s engineers.
Luba Empire (1585–1889)
The kingdom of Luba or Luba Empire was a Central African state founded by King Kongolo Maniema around 1585 in the marshy grasslands of the Upemba Depression in what is now southern Democratic Republic of Congo. Maniema’s nephew and immediate successor, Kalala Ilunga, expanded the empire over the upper left bank territories of the Lualaba River. At its peak, the state had about a million people paying tribute to its king.
Lunda Empire (circa 1665-1887)
The kingdom of Lunda was a pre-colonial African confederation of states in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, northeastern Angola and northwestern Zambia. With a base of 175,000 inhabitants, the Lunda Kingdom controlled about 150,000 square kilometers by 1680, but the state doubled in size at its height in the 19th century.