When talking about the invasion of African cities, we major mostly on colonial invaders. They killed, maimed, and destroyed African cities, robbing people of their fortunes. According to historical research, Europeans came to Africa in search of greener pastures. Their countries were becoming broke, and so they decided to explore other continents. Upon arriving in Africa, they found fertile lands, ore fields, and even slaves. Since they wanted to make quick money, they deprived Africans of their lands and resources, forcing them to work as slaves. The colonials successfully managed to cause destruction and oppression because they had superior weapons. Were it not for their guns; they would not have colonized Africans, later stealing their fortunes and destroying their cities?
However, during the invasions, African leaders led revolutions that resisted colonial rule. Queens and kings fought for their communities despite being in danger. Through withstanding humiliation and torture, Africans proved they were great legends. And bravery is one virtue that African descendants possess as a trait they inherited from their ancestors.
Meanwhile, today, the states which suffered immense colonial oppression demand compensation. Some countries like Nigeria, which lost some of their old pieces of art to French colonials, demand their return. All this is possible since African states gained independence.
The Ancient City of Meroe
Meroe is an ancient town comprised of Kushitic speakers. It is located on the eastern side of River Nile, a distance of about 6.5 kilometers to the north of Sudan. This city was the capital city of the Kingdom of Kush for several years amid medieval times. The Kingdom of Kush is one of the earliest and most impressive states founded in Sahara’s southern part. The city of Meroe has over 200 pyramids, which are of distinctive sizes and proportions.
History documents that the Kingdom of Kush came to existence after the ancient Egyptian dynasty were the 25th dynasty. The Nubian pharaohs had established the Kingdom of Kush after losing power in Egypt. Therefore, since the pharaohs found Kush in Meroe, most of its inhabitants were of Egypto-Cushite culture. Meroe served as the southern administrative center for Kush’s Kingdom as Napata was still its capital. However, during 590, Psamtik II, who was then the Egyptian pharaoh, made Meroe the Kush capital. As such, Meroe tremendously developed into a beautiful and prosperous city.
At some point, Romans attempted to infringe the city but failed. Although Meroe survived the invasion, its growth experienced a slight plunge. However, as its status declined from the initial attack, their enemies decided to pursue them. Because of subsequent raids by neighboring tribes, the city of Meroe collapsed. The Aksumite armies were the ones responsible for the downfall of Meroe.
Today, what is left of Meroe are the remains of once substantial buildings, streets, palaces, the great temple of Amon, and a large city. Meanwhile, all that remains in the Kingdom of Kush is their grand architecture and works of art, which symbolized the greatness of the kings and queens of Nubia.
The City of Carthage
Carthage was a medieval city in north Africa, which in present-day we call Tunisia. Many remember Carthage as the city of Phoenicians. This city was a large, powerful, and influential political entity in the Mediterranean before the Punitive wars. The latter were conflicts that occurred between Rome and Carthage between 264 and 146 BCE. Initially, the people called Carthage Kart-hadasht to differentiate it from the older Phoenicians city that was nearby.
Who founded Carthage?
It was in c—814 BCE when queen Dido, or Elissa, who was a Phoenician, established the Carthage city. The latter increased in population after harboring many refugees who migrated from Tyre. Following the significant influx, queen Dido expanded the city to form the Carthaginian Empire. The refugees were running away from Alexander, who had destroyed their trade and industrial center. Therefore, people believe that Tyre was Carthage’s mother city for the immigrants who arrived in Carthage with enough wealth to elevate its status. Were it not for the refugees, probably Carthage would not have developed into a big city. However, history documents that the Punitive wars caused so much destruction in Carthage, the town suffered a tremendous loss.
During 698CE, Muslim Arabs staged a coup in north Africa with intentions to destroy Carthage. Due to the destruction, the Carthaginians rebuilt the city, although this time in a modest way. However, Carthage collapsed later after a third Punic war when Romans ambushed it. The Romans then re-developed the city and named it Roman Carthage. The latter then became the principal city of the Roman Empire. After Carthage’s battle, which occurred in 698, the Umayyad forces ambushed the city, ransacked, and destroyed it, leaving Carthage to be completely different. The beauty was no more; all that remained were ruins of demolished buildings.
The Legendary Ashanti Capital of Kumasi
The Asante is a region that housed the Asante people. It was rich in gold reserves, which contributed to the stable growth in their economy. The Ashantis established their Empire in 1670 along Lake Volta and the Gulf of Guinea. In 1680, they founded the capital of the Empire at Kumasi. Since Kumasi was at the main trading center, the Ashanti Empire continued to become wealthy. Therefore, Kumasi became not only a prominent trading center but also an administrative center.
In turn, the wealth of the Ashanti Empire spread throughout the continent. This attracted both friends and enemies. Some intended to infringe the Kingdom and steal the power, while there were those who wished to become their trade partners and make profits. The merchants in Kumasi traded slaves, gold, which they exchanged for fine linen, salt, etc.
The Asantehene Osei Tutu I, who founded the Empire, benefitted a lot from the gold trade. During those times, the wealth belonged to the royal family. They clothed in fine clothes, enjoyed the best dishes, and had slaves who attended to their needs.
Although Ashanti encountered several attacks from neighboring tribes, it collapsed after the British invasion. This was the third war, also called the War of the Golden Stool. General Federick Hodgson, who was from Britain, led the British soldiers amid this war. According to the Ashantis, the general had committed a grave mistake when he sat on the Golden Stool, which the Ashantis considered a sacred royal throne. This act angered the Ashantis, who then ambushed the colonial soldiers.
The Soldiers defeated the Ashantis, burnt the buildings in Kumasi, reducing them to ruins. They captured the queen’s mother together with other royal members and exiled them. After that, the colonials made the Ashanti territories part of the Gold Coast colony.
It is located in southern Nigeria in west Africa. Of all the cities in Edo, it is the largest, thus the capital city. Since the town is centrally positioned, it is easily accessible for both the rubber and oil industries. This city flourished around the 13th and 19th centuries. Due to its popularity in trade, it had strong trade relations with Portugal.
The local inhabitants of Benin were the Edo people. This ethnic group spoke the Edo language. Their dress code is the most famous amongst West African countries. They wore beads, bangles, anklets, and raffia. Moreover, they practiced subsistence farming, cultivating yam, plantain, and cassava. The Ogiso was the name of the kings who reigned over the people of Edo. Ogiso meant Kings of the Sky.
Collapse of Benin
Since the wealth in Benin increased significantly amid the 16th and 17th centuries, it attracted many people. From locals to colonials. In February 1897, British colonials invaded the city of Benin. The British soldiers had strong forces who were armed with superior weapons. They killed and raced the city, conquering the city. On that day, many Edo forces lost their lives.
Other than destroying the city, the British looted their portrait figures. Today, some of these ornaments lay as exhibits in museums across the world. However, the colonials auctioned some of these pieces of art to compensate for the damage the Benin city incurred during the invasion. When the British successfully defeated Benin, they were advantaged as it made it easier for them to access other African territories. We see why during the scramble and partition for Africa, the British managed to secure several colonies. It is quite unfortunate that what remained of Benin are ruins of buildings enclosed in ravaged walls.
Nonetheless, these cities are rich sources of ancient history. They enrich new generations about the culture of the ancient inhabitants. As such, these cities are part of prehistoric towns that contribute to their country’s foreign exchange. There are no longer facing the threat of any kind because now they are government property. Although the stories behind these cities’ downfall are sad, it is quite interesting to listen to them. The thought of having an imagination of how the ancient African warriors fought while defending their territories is fascinating.