Africa without Colonialism and Other Revealing Maps

African politco-tribal units circa 1844

What if colonialism didn’t happen in Africa? Rachel Strohm explores this  theoretically-expansive 19th century map by Nikolaj Cyon and asks:

I haven’t been able to find any firm documentation on the origin of the name Alkebu-lan, although a variety of questionably sourced websites suggest that it’s an Arabic phrase meaning “land of the blacks” – supposedly an original name for Africa.  Cyon notes in a presentation that the map represents the culmination of an alternate history where the Black Plague killed significantly more Europeans than was actually the case, presumably reducing the amount of early colonization which would have occurred.  Thus, while many of these territorial groupings appear feasible to me, it’s unclear if they represent the real extent of various ethnic groups in 1844.

via The colonization counterfactual | Rachel Strohm.

Another map, referenced in a remarkable post with “40 maps that explain the world” by Max Fisher illustrate the location of today’s 30 million slaves live–including a good number in Africa, pre-colonial African empires–including the West African Imperial Systems, and the diverse languages of Africa.


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