Our Top 5 West African Kingdoms

Written By: Malik Bradley

king of kings

This is the start of what will be an ongoing passion project series detailing the; Who, What, Where, When and Why these Kingdoms are in our opinion to be the Top 5. This will be in accordance with our Pan-Africanist views and judging their varying levels of success against foreign invasions, financial wealth and infrastructure, and accomplishments. We will be covering the three determined regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. Starting with West-Africa, and then moving onto East Africa, eventually getting to Central and Southern Africa respectively.

Two African Knights on horses

Kanem-Bornu Knights

Started by the Kenmbu peoples of Sub-Saharan Africa the Kanem-Bornu Kingdom was one of the longest lasting Empires of not only Africa but the entire world, lasting from the 9th century to the 19th century. Was a very unique empire connecting aspects of East Africa to West Africa. It consisted of a vast area encompassing the modern areas of Northern Cameroon, Northeastern Nigeria, almost the entirety of Chad, slim parts of eastern Niger, as well as even southern parts of Libya. Consisting of an Area of about 776,996 km (300,000 sq mi).

The Kanem Empire was known for its wealth, walled cities, and also for being one of the most prominent African Kingdoms who used Armored Knights as well as cavalry.  Had several long military engagements with the Hausa to the west, the Taureg and Toubou to the North, and the Balabu to the east. All while fighting the Sao from within its own Kingdom. Islamic law was introduced early on by the notable Idris Alooma, leading to constant internal strife and it’s eventual if not slow decline; it is also worth noting that almost all of this kingdoms enemies were other black Africans leaving it last on our list despite its success.

Benin in its Glory

Benin in its glory

Another long lasting Kingdom, the Benin Kingdom lasted for a period of about 700 years being established around 1180 AD until it was annexed by the British Empire around 1897 AD. Unlike our last selection on this list, this Kingdom was known for its various and on many occasions successful military engagements with foreign invaders like Portugal, The Dutch, and Britain. This kingdom became a highly organized state under the Obas (Priest-like rulers). Under these “Obas”, Its numerous craftsmen were organized into guilds, and the kingdom became famous for its ivory and wood carvers as well as its metallurgy and sword making. Its brass smiths and bronze casters excelled at making naturalistic heads, bas-reliefs, and other sculptures for hundreds of years, far before any European. 

This Kingdom was known for the extraordinary architecture of its walled cities, as well as it’s exquisitely armored soldiers and their highly developed sense of unique culture and religion. This Kingdom created the Walls of Benin a world wonder that was destroyed after the British discovered it and preceded to relentlessly attack this ancient civilization until it succumbed to British pressure and advanced weaponry. This Kingdom would have placed higher by all respects on this list had it been slightly larger and not comprised of two to three City-States.

Author: Man-Sa

Singer/Songwriter/Musician - Self-Proclaimed Historian - Voice-Over Actor - Aspiring Video Game Developer - Video Game Enthusiast- Fitness Enthusiast - Blogger - Producer - Innovator

6 thoughts

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    Liked by 1 person

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