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What if Africa became Imperial?

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  • What if Africa became Imperial?

    Let's say that Europe could never recover properly after the fall of the Roman and Byzantine Empires. So they never set sail for the America's, establish colonies, or take over most of the world.

    So instead, Africa leaps onto the world's stage, with advanced technology (compared to the rest of the world), strong economies, and the military to enforce their will.

    What would the world be like if the Continents of Europe, Asia, and the Americas were carved up between Africa?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Fenris Hachiman View Post
    Let's say that Europe could never recover properly after the fall of the Roman and Byzantine Empires. So they never set sail for the America's, establish colonies, or take over most of the world.

    So instead, Africa leaps onto the world's stage, with advanced technology (compared to the rest of the world), strong economies, and the military to enforce their will.

    What would the world be like if the Continents of Europe, Asia, and the Americas were carved up between Africa?
    Surely Africa is split up into so many nations that they would be too busy fighting among themselves to do that.
    'By Horse by Tram'.


    I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
    " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by lcm1 View Post
      Surely Africa is split up into so many nations that they would be too busy fighting among themselves to do that.
      You mean in contrast to the unity Europe achived between the fall of Rome and ... 1945?

      Back in my university days thirty years ago I took a couple semesters of Africa history. Simple survey courses. One clear point was the lack of English language publication about African civilizations. The instructor drew the vast majority of his information from publications in other languages. Much information about civilization in Africa and particularly sub Saharan Africa did not seem to be available in English.

      A second point rested on the constant three way interchange of trade, technology, ideas, and general culture between Africa, Europe, and the Middle East through history. The view that this interchange flowed only towards Africa and never the opposite direction became a dominate view, which still colors modern English language discourse, particularly in the US. Another professor of the Classical Greek and Roman age suggested you cant look at that era in terms of African, or European or Middle Eastern, but rather as a "Mediterranian" civilization.

      Third has been the modern perspective of judging 'civilization' against the guage of the 19th Century industrial revolution of Europe and North America and 20th Century industrial development. Compare the general or brod view of 17th, 12th, or 8th Century Africa, Europe & the Middle East and the differnces are much smaller.

      Last the view is distorted by the vast changes wrought by the colonial era begaining in the 19th Century. Both the economic and cultural changes and the replacement of older African culture with European & Middle Eastern culture obscures the pre 19th Century picture.

      Comment


      • #4
        The foundation of Empires easy and efficient method of travel. Africa did not lend itself to easy and efficient ravel. The great rivers of Africa home to deadly insect borne diseases. The coastal areas are also home to the same diseases. The only regions that were relatively free of inspect borne disease was the African highlands. Those spawn many empires and civilizations but they never had the ability to conquer the surrounding diseased lowlands. This is one of things that prevent African empires from expanding over the whole continent let alone to Europe or Asia. Jared Diamond also argues about agricultural effects that I think would have impact. Africa did however certainly have suitable animals for domestication so that would not be a problem.

        Of there is one major river in Africa that is not affected by the above mentioned problems and it certainly was the basis of many empires, the Nile
        FoxNEWS "The World is unfair and we are running scared"

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        • #5
          The Sahael region lying between the Shara and the tropicall wetlands to the south was another area where disease interfered less with the development of trade and complex political systems. The eastern coast had some large areas where trade, technology, and political systems developed. The area comprising modern Ethiopea and Somliland has had a high level of cultural development reaching back to at least Roman times. For some reason the temperate and realatively healthy reagion of the southern tip of Africa did not develop the agriculture, population, or technology of a 'civilization. The little studied cities of Zimbabwe are the closest a high level of technology came to 'South Africa' until the Europeans in the 1600s.

          Jared Diamond identifiys the existance of a 'crossroads effect' aiding a region in advancing consistently and developing imperial capabilities. that is if a area lies at a junction of several developing areas it will develop in a more robust fashion from drawing on the economys and cultures of the several adjacent regions.

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          • #6
            Jared Diamond wrote an excellent book Guns Germs and Steel showing why the nations of western Europe rose to world domination. To summarise a huge book into a few bullet points:
            • the Eurasian land mass creates a huge east west temperate zone allowing crop types, farming techniques, technology and knowldege to pass fairly easilly (such as the Silk Road". The "vertical" north south landmasses such as South America and Africa lacked this critical mass.
            • local animal types in Africa could not be easilly domisticated compared to European ones (zebra vs horse)
            • ditto crop types
            • diseases followed the same path creating strong resistance to the survivors in Eurasia.



            There were some city states in Africa, famously Zimbabwe, but they have left little but ruins and no one really knows who they were.
            What would Occam say?

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            • #7
              Diamonds ideas hold up when applied to most of human history, but there are exceptions. One is what I will call the barbarian effect. Periphrial cultures or peoples living on our outside the edge of the more advanced areas often emerge abruptly to create large empires and alter the cultural lansdcape. The Mongol empire and the German kingdoms in the Mediterranian are two examples. Later the Portuguse, Dutch, French, and British, which were preiprial to the traditional Mediterrainian civilization expanded outward and established empires across the globe. The question is why did this happen and could those conditions have occured in Africa? that would help naswer the original question in this thread.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                You mean in contrast to the unity Europe achived between the fall of Rome and ... 1945?

                Back in my university days thirty years ago I took a couple semesters of Africa history. Simple survey courses. One clear point was the lack of English language publication about African civilizations. The instructor drew the vast majority of his information from publications in other languages. Much information about civilization in Africa and particularly sub Saharan Africa did not seem to be available in English.

                A second point rested on the constant three way interchange of trade, technology, ideas, and general culture between Africa, Europe, and the Middle East through history. The view that this interchange flowed only towards Africa and never the opposite direction became a dominate view, which still colors modern English language discourse, particularly in the US. Another professor of the Classical Greek and Roman age suggested you cant look at that era in terms of African, or European or Middle Eastern, but rather as a "Mediterranian" civilization.

                Third has been the modern perspective of judging 'civilization' against the guage of the 19th Century industrial revolution of Europe and North America and 20th Century industrial development. Compare the general or brod view of 17th, 12th, or 8th Century Africa, Europe & the Middle East and the differnces are much smaller.

                Last the view is distorted by the vast changes wrought by the colonial era begaining in the 19th Century. Both the economic and cultural changes and the replacement of older African culture with European & Middle Eastern culture obscures the pre 19th Century picture.
                My comment on the subject may have been wrong in your eyes and I am quite willing to accept being proved wrong if you can prove your point,but beginning with a unnecesary sarcastic comment does not make me a good pupil!!
                'By Horse by Tram'.


                I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
                " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                  The question is why did this happen and could those conditions have occured in Africa? that would help naswer the original question in this thread.
                  You have hit it right on the head, it is hard to get to a definative answer as to why small peripheral nations like Holland, England, Portugal took the European model to its current place in the world.

                  You get partial explanations such as
                  • technology (ability to sail against the wind etc)
                  • education (dominance of indivualistic questioning)
                  • competition (many small nations constantly striving to outdo thier neighbours)
                  • indivualisim (the Reformation and rise of the individual)

                  but no easy answer as to why all of these appeared in Europe.

                  There is another benchmark book on this type of thing called "The Wealth and Poverty of Nations" which points very heavily towards protestantism as being the defining difference which is not a new argument of course, but very well presented by the author. This does not say why Luther and Co triumphed in northern Europe.

                  Of course we have to keep this in perspective, western liberal democracy has only been around for a few centuries - in comparison to Chinese or Indian history, we are still unproven.
                  What would Occam say?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    True to a point. Howver, the Chinese and Indian civilisations stagnated badly over many centuries to the extent that they are now trying to catch us up as we went through what they did relatively quickly

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I suspose the Chinese or Indian perspective is their civilisations stagnated because they were invaded by forigen barbarians in the 18th or 19th Centurys. In the case of China I did some reading twenty years ago that led me to the conclusion that they were well into the industrial revolution in the early 19th Century, apace with the Europeans. Then the mismanagement of the late Manchu dynasty, the Taiping rebellion, and the subsequent European economic stranglehold on the major cities derailed investment and slowed industrial development drastically. Probablly not the full story, but it makes more sense than blaming the classical Chinese education for all problems.

                      Anyway, whatever caused the Western Europeans to attain imperial class abilites was not the only precursor. Population pressure has been identified as a clear perequisite for a periphrial population to begain migration and conquest. Not all expanding population groups are able to conquor their neighbors or establish empires. There have to other relative advantages. But in the case of Africa the population pressure oes not seem to have been suffcient to support the start of outward expansion. At least not in the last 5,000 years The problems of disease refered to by PatBC are part of this. What else might there be?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Fenris Hachiman View Post
                        Let's say that Europe could never recover properly after the fall of the Roman and Byzantine Empires. So they never set sail for the America's, establish colonies, or take over most of the world.

                        So instead, Africa leaps onto the world's stage, with advanced technology (compared to the rest of the world), strong economies, and the military to enforce their will.

                        What would the world be like if the Continents of Europe, Asia, and the Americas were carved up between Africa?
                        you mean sub-saharan africa?

                        well, for this to be plausible... you need to change the climate, the societal structures of the poeoples, and perhaps change the people themselves... imperial civilisations need some form of drive, collective high intelligence and hard work.... in my years of work in Africa, I never found these... and also studyign african history, never seen these ever.

                        ok, fire away your flames!
                        "Freedom cannot exist without discipline, self-discipline, and rights cannot exist without duties. Those who do not observe their duties do not deserve their rights."--Oriana Fallaci

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by piero1971 View Post
                          you mean sub-saharan africa?

                          well, for this to be plausible... you need to change the climate, the societal structures of the poeoples, and perhaps change the people themselves... imperial civilisations need some form of drive, collective high intelligence and hard work.... in my years of work in Africa, I never found these... and also studyign african history, never seen these ever.

                          ok, fire away your flames!
                          I believe you are a bit of a stirer mate!!
                          'By Horse by Tram'.


                          I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
                          " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                            I suspose the Chinese or Indian perspective is their civilisations stagnated because they were invaded by forigen barbarians in the 18th or 19th Centurys. In the case of China I did some reading twenty years ago that led me to the conclusion that they were well into the industrial revolution in the early 19th Century, apace with the Europeans. Then the mismanagement of the late Manchu dynasty, the Taiping rebellion, and the subsequent European economic stranglehold on the major cities derailed investment and slowed industrial development drastically. Probablly not the full story, but it makes more sense than blaming the classical Chinese education for all problems.

                            Anyway, whatever caused the Western Europeans to attain imperial class abilites was not the only precursor. Population pressure has been identified as a clear perequisite for a periphrial population to begain migration and conquest. Not all expanding population groups are able to conquor their neighbors or establish empires. There have to other relative advantages. But in the case of Africa the population pressure oes not seem to have been suffcient to support the start of outward expansion. At least not in the last 5,000 years The problems of disease refered to by PatBC are part of this. What else might there be?
                            It could be argued that the Europeans managed to take over such huge empires because they had already stagnated lloowing the west to take a dominant position in terms of technology and social organization. In the long term it could well be that from a Chinese perspective, this brief western dominance is seen as an unpleasant blip.
                            What would Occam say?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by billscottmorri View Post
                              It could be argued that the Europeans managed to take over such huge empires because they had already stagnated lloowing the west to take a dominant position in terms of technology and social organization. In the long term it could well be that from a Chinese perspective, this brief western dominance is seen as an unpleasant blip.
                              Well that would account for part of it, but the other half is why these specific nations created large empires when they did.

                              Comment

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