The Story of Africa



Charting major events in Africa's history across millenia


5-3 Million BC First hominids walk East and Southern Africa, known as Australopithecines or "Ape-Men"

3-1.5 Million BC Early Stone Age and the emergence of Homo habilis "the toolmaker", using flaked stone scrapers.

1.75-1 Million BC - Evolution of Homo erectus who used of hand axes and shaped stone scrapers

1 million-40,000 BC - the Middle Stone Age saw the evolution of an early form of Homo sapiens - modern man. Shaped stone points used for spearheads.

40,000-10,000 BC - the Later Stone Age witnessed the rise of Homo sapiens, the development of the bow and arrow, rock paintings and the emergence of the hunter gathering lifestyle.

9,000-3,000 BC - Last major wet period in Africa. The Sahara is habitable with savannah, grassland and rivers. Baked clay pottery found in African stone age communities. Beginnings of agriculture and domestication of animals

8,000 BC - Evidence of pottery and agricultural production in Nile Valley

3200-2755 BC - Pre-dynastic/Archaic period when the early Nile Valley settlements united into one administration. First appearance of Egyptian writing or hieroglyphics

2755-2255 BC - The Old Kingdom of Egypt. The building of the first pyramids. Architect, physician and priest Imhotep revolutionises pyramid construction by using stone rather than mud to build the famous Step Pyramid for the ruler Zoser. King Cheops later builds the Great Pyramid of Giza. [PHOTO] The Old Kingdom Egyptians make huge advances in academic fields such as navigation, astronomy and medicine.

2200-2160 BC - The First Intermediate period of Egypt
Chaos sparked by the death of the Sixth dynasty King Pepi the second after 94 years of rule. Central authority collapses leading to civil war as local princes clashed with each other.

2134-1784 BC- The Middle Kingdom of Egypt. Egypt reunited and the country's administration reorganised under Menthuhotep who based his capital at Thebes. He maintains the unity of the state against regional insurgencies. The twelfth dynasty king Sesostris I and his successor Sesostris III build fortresses in Nubia and form standing armies to fight against the Nubians.

1783-1570 BC - The Second Intermediate Period of Egypt
The Hka-Hasut or Hyksos migrate to Egypt from Western Asia introducing the horse and chariot and establish a dynasty in the middle and north of the country which confronts Theban-based ruler Kamose. Kamose's brother, Ahmose I, eventually defeats the Hyksos and reunites Egypt.

1570-1085 BC - The New Kingdom of Egypt. Amenhotep I begins new period of expansion into Nubia and Palestine. Thutmose II extends the Egyptian empire by waging seventeen foreign campaigns. With the country politically stable Egyptian art and building revives under Amenhotep III. The young Pharaoh Tutankamen dies aged 18 and hisrichly furnished tomb is found in 1922. Ramses the second wages war against the Hittite peoples from Asia and conducts successful campaigns in Palestine and Syria.

1450 BC - Egypt destroys Kushite kingdom of Kerma and occupies Nubia for 500 years

1085-767 BC - The Third Intermediate Period of Egypt
The power of Pharaohs is challenged by the priests of the god Amun. Egypt is divided between Kings ruling from Tanis in the north and high priests based in the southern town of Thebes.

1075 BC - Governors of Kush begin to assert independence.

850 BC - Rise of the Kushite state of Napata.

767-671 BC - The Late Period of Egypt. The Kushite kings of 25th Dynasty emerge as rulers of Egypt starting the period of "black pharaohs" from a culture which shows far more African influences than previous administrations. The Kushites are eventually ousted by the Assyrians.

553 BC - Kushite kings move to Meroe.

500 BC - Evidence of iron smelting in Nigeria and central Niger. Spreads to rest of West Africa by 1000 AD

332 BC - Alexander the Great occupies Egypt and one of his governors, Ptolomy, founds a dynasty which ends with the famous Queen Cleopatra.

200 BC - City of ancient Jenne thought to have been established.

30 BC - Cleopatra's forces are defeated by the Roman legions under the Roman commander, Octavian, and Egypt effectively became a province of the Roman Empire.

12 BC-12 AD - Golden age of Meroitic culture under King Netekamani.

1st - 2nd Century - Christianity comes to North Africa.

29, 30 or 33 - Crucifixion of Jesus

100 - 2nd Century - Christianity comes to Alexandria from Jerusalem

180 - 12 - Christians executed for beliefs in Carthage

181 - In Carthage Perpetua refuses renounce Christianity and is sent to the lions

182 - Emperor Diocletian launches great persecution against Christianity

4th Century - Collapse of Meroe kingdom

5th-7th Century - Scriptures translated into Ge'ez in Ethiopia

311 - Donatist split

312 - Constantine makes Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire

333 - Ethiopian King Ezana makes Christianity official religion

451 - Schism (divide) with Rome on nature of God, marks the beginning of separate Coptic Church I in North Africa (taking Monophysite line, i.e. Jesus is not human as well as the son of God)

6th Century - Christianity comes to Nubia

639 - Islam comes to North Africa, displacing Christianity on a large scale

1-1000 AD - Some time in this period Oduduwa, son of supreme God, Olurun (Oludmare), founds dynasty of Kings (Ooni) at Ife. TR

100 - First written eye witness account of East African Coast compiled. SW

200-500 AD - Movement of Bantu peoples to east and southern Africa, "The Bantu Migrations."

300 AD - Decline of Meroe.

5th Century - Sack of Rome

6th Century - Kanem founded

500 AD - Kintu - semi-divine first Kabaka or king of Baganda

570 - Birth of Mohammed.

7th century - Zaghawa people settled next to Lake Chad. Thought to be the early founders of Kanem.

610 - Mohammed called to be prophet.

622 - AH - Anno Hegira: year zero in Muslim calendar, dating from flight of the Prophet Mohammed from Mecca to Medina.

630s - Islam comes to North Africa.

632 - Death of Prophet Mohammed.

639 - Muslim invasion of Egypt under Amr Ibn al-As challenging Roman Byzantine rule

640-750 - Umayyad Caliphate

642 - Byzantine administration expelled from Alexandria. Cairo founded South of Alexandria

657 - Kharjitism (Kharjite Movement) starts in West of Maghreb (North Africa) I

670 - Kairwan founded (in modern Tunisia)

690 - Byzantine fleet defeated at Carthage, Tunis built

Early 8th Century - Western Algeria and Morocco conquered Old Ghana first mentioned in Arabic documents

8th Century - First Muslims on East Coast of Africa.

711 - Atlantic coast of Morocco reached by Arabs

717 - Heavy taxation moves large numbers of Coptic Christians to convert to Islam

740 - Beginning of Kharjite revolt, leading to overthrow of Umayyad dynasty

750 - Abbasid dynasty. Governing centre of Muslims moves from Mecca to Baghdad.

9th century - Fishing community form the nucleus of early Songhay.

800 - Aghlabid dynasty established in Irfiqiya

Late 9th Century - Egypt ruled by Turkish Military Governors & multi-ethnic army

10th century - First Hausa state thought to have been formed.

10th Century - Persian sailor Buzurg ibn Shahriyar of Rahmhormuz writes his collection of sailors' tales.

900 AD - Igbo-Ukwo bronze ceremonial objects start being made in Nigeria.

910 - Fatimid dynasty came to power in Kairwan and gains control of Central Maghreb

934 - Fatimid fleet sacks Genoa in Italy

950 - Fatimid dynasty gains control of Northern Tunisia and Algeria

969 - Fatimid dynasty takes Egypt from Turkish military rulers

996-1021 - Persecution of Copts under Caliph el-Hakim

Early 11th century - Sefawa dynasty displaces Zaghawa in Kanem. Yoruba kingdoms of Ife and Benin thought to have been founded.

1009 - Destruction of Church of Holy Sepulchre Jerusalem.

1055 - Almoravid (al-Murabitun) movement gains control over gold trade through capturing Sjilmasa in North and Awdaghust in South

1060s - Kanem converts to Islam.

1062 - Famine in North Africa. Fatimid dynasty in decline. SW

1067 - Al Bakri compiles travellers' accounts of Ghana

1070 - Almoravid establishes Marrakesh

1076 - Almoravid campaign against ancient Ghana and enter its capital.

1083 - Almoravid conquer all Maghreb west of Algiers

1086 - Almoravid Muslims invade and conquer southern Spain.

11th-12th century - Gold fields begin to be mined at Bure, out of the commercial reach of Ghana. New trade routes open up further east.

1147 - Almohad take Marrakesh led by Mohammed Ibn Tumart

1171 - Fatimid dynasty rule shrunk to Egypt, and is overthrown by Kurdish Vizier Saladin (Saleh al Din ibn Ayub) who starts Ayubbid dynasty

1210 - Mai Dunama Dibalami becomes ruler of Kanem, leading it to the height of its power. The centre of government moves to Borno. The state becomes known as Kanem-Borno.

1212 - Almohad defeated in Spain by Christians. Almohad state collapses into three

1230s - The Ancient Empire of Ghana declines. Empire of Mali comes to prominence under Mansa (king) Sundiata Keita after he defeats Sosso ruler Sumanguru.

1250 - Ayyubid dynasty overthrown by Mamluk troops

1268 - Monastery of Debra Libanos built at Shoa

1269 - Marinid rule Morocco from Fes for two centuries. Hafsids rule Ifriquya until 16th. Century

Early 14th Century - Collapse of Mongol Empire.

14th century - Empire of Mali reaches its peak.
Queen Amina of Zazzau expands the Zaria emirate through a series of wars.

1310s - Mansa Abubakar II sets out to cross the Atlantic Ocean and is never seen again. Mansa Musa succeeds him as ruler.

1317 - Dongola Cathedral converted to Mosque.

1324 - Mansa Musa of Mali makes his magnificent pilgrimage to Mecca.

1348 - Black Death reaches Maghreb from Sicily and kills over quarter of population of North Africa.

late 14th C - Decline of Mali

15th century - Rise of Songhay

1433 - Tuareg capture Timbuktu

1444 - first slaves brought to Portugal from northern Mauritania

1444-5 - Portuguese make contract with Sub-Saharan Africa

1453 - Ottoman Turks take Constantinople.

1464 - King Sunni Ali becomes leader of Songhay and defeats Mali.

1471 - Portuguese arrive in the Gold Coast

1482 - Portuguese begin building Elmina Castle on the Gold Coast

1488 - Bartholomew Diaz goes round the Cape of Good Hope

1490 - First missionaries come to Kongo from Portugal

1490 - first Portuguese missionaries go to Congo

1493 - Mande Muslim general, Askia Muhammad, seizes power and expands Songhay.

1500 - sugar plantations established on island of Sao Tome two hundred miles from coast of West Africa

1510 - Moroccan writer Leo Africanus visits Gao, the capital of Songhay.

1510 - first slaves shipped to Spanish colonies in South America via Spain

1513 - Leo Africanus visits Timbuktu.

1516 - Benin ceases to export male slaves, fearing loss of manpower

1517 - Ottoman Turks take Egypt from Mamluk rulers

1543 - Ethiopians defeat Muslim army of Kingdom of Adal with help of Portuguese.

1591 - Moroccan army defeats Songhay.

1599 - Fort Jesus built by Portuguese.

17th century - Ife eclipsed by expanding Oyo kingdom.

1621 - With the abdication of Emperor Susenyos, the Ethiopian Church is restored as the official church, after a period of Catholicism

1652 - Dutch settle in the Cape; beginning of Dutch Reformed Church

1670s - Osei Tutu defeats Denkyira and establishes Asante empire.

18th century - Kanem-Borno goes into decline.

18th century - Jihads launched in Futa Jalon

1706 - Emperor Susenyos of Ethiopia becomes Catholic; Dona Beatriz Kimpa Vita, of Kongo, is burnt at stake having claimed to be possessed by spirit of St. Anthony

1737 - Moravian Brethren set up in South Africa

1737 - Tuareg seize Timbuktu, capital of old Mali

1750 - Fulbe rise up supported by Muslim traders and conquer settled farmers

1799 - London Missionary Society (LMS) set up in South Africa

1804 - Usman dan Fodio launches Jihad in northern Nigeria.

1804 - Protestant mission in Sierra Leone

1807 - British declare abolition of slave trade

1808 - All Hausa states under rule of Sokoto Caliphate of Usman dan Fodio

1809 - Sokoto caliphate established.

1839 - Pope Gregory XVI issues Papal Bull condemning slavery

1840 - David Livingstone arrives in Africa

1852 - Calabar slaves successfully resist traditional burial of slaves on death of king. TR

1856 - Xhosa kill cattle on advice of ancestral spirits.

1865 - Samuel Ajayi Crowther became first black Anglican Bishop in Nigeria

1868 - White Fathers Mission Society established by Lavigerie, Archbishop of Algiers. Dedicated to mission work in Africa

1882 - Nehemiah Tile's Ethiopian church founded in South Africa

1886 - Christian pages executed by Kabaka Mwanga.

1874 - Asante lose territory to the British under Treaty of Fomana.

1881 - Prempeh I becomes Asantehene (King of the Asante).

1886 - Execution of Christian pages in court of Buganda by Kabaka Mwanga

1892 - Mangena M. Mokone's Tembu National Church founded in South Africa

1896 - Prempeh I sent into exile by British

1896 - Shona ancestral spirit, Ambuya Nehanda, takes human form in fight against British. TR

1897 - British soldiers loot city of Benin taking valuable bronzes and other objects.

Yaa Asantewa (Asante Queen Mother) leads a revolt against the British.

1901 - Asante annexed by the British.

1914 - Mourimi movement emerges in Mozambique. TR

1921 - Simon Kimbangu founds EJCSK (Eglise de Jesus sur la Terre par le Prophete Simon Kimangu) or Church of Jesus on Earth through the Prophet Simon Kimangu

1924 - Prempeh I returns from exile to Kumasi.

1925 - Discovery of Australopithecus near Taung, South Africa.

1927 - Dimi Ya Roho (Holy Ghost Church) founded in Kenya

1939 - 1st African Catholic Bishops: Joseph Kiwanuka of Buganda, and Joseph Faye of Senegal

1947 - Mcapi cult founded Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Nyasaland (Malawi)

1960s - Homo habilis skulls found in Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania and Lake Turkana, Kenya

1960 - Dutch Reformed Church expelled from the World Council of Churches

1974 - Semi-complete skeleton of "Lucy" found in Omo Valley, Ethiopia

1935 - The Asante monarchy restored.

1971 - Shona ancestral spirit, Ambuya Behanda, takes human form to support fight against white minority rule in Rhodesia.

1975 - Thirteen Australopithecus remains found in Hadar, Ethiopia. Homo Erectus skull found Lake Turkana

1976 - Australopithecus footprints found in Laetoli, Tanzania.

1997 - Discovery of Australopithecus in Sterkfontein, South Africa
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