Ancient Africa: Inspiration for the Woodlands

If you can, name one Ancient African Kingdom.

Did Egypt come to mind? Kush? Carthage? Ethiopia? Zimbabwe? Hollywood and even some textbooks make us think that Egypt is a Caucasian nation. Kush and Carthage are only familiar to those who read literature and mythology. Ethiopia and Zimbabwe are seen on the map, but how many people recognize them as countries descending from great African kingdoms?

Of course, part of the blame goes to school curriculum. We do not learn about Ancient Africa in schools or even universities. US schools have only just started teaching about ancient China, ancient Japan, Islamic empires, and Native American civilizations. But what about Africa? I remember learning about how the human race evolved/originated from Africa and about ancient Egypt then the curriculum ignored the continent’s existence until it was relevant again during the Age of Exploration. And of course, as I have noted, textbooks do not explicitly state that Egypt is an example of African splendor.

Of course, this isn’t an issue about what race these ancient peoples were. The races we have today are irrelevant to the study of ancient kingdoms because different peoples were not isolated long enough to be distinct from one another. But, this is a question of racism. The imperialist bias is still infecting our history books.

Ok, so I’ll step off of my soapbox now, and get to how this relates to the novel series pakwriter1 is publishing at http://pakauthor.com. pakwriter1’s goal (and my goal, as a researcher for this project) for the novel series is to create a world with countries with both positive and negative aspects. One of these countries is the Woodlands, arguably the most affluent nation in Fru.

The Woodlands has yet to be visited by our characters, but it is a nation inspired by the Ancient African Kingdoms. Of course, we’re taking some geographic liberty because unlike Africa, which has desert, savannah, and jungle regions, the Woodlands, strictly a fictional place, is mostly jungle/rainforest. Also, we haven’t finalized what exactly the Woodlands civilization will look like. Research so far has been difficult, since my university does not offer any classes on the topic, and the library resources are scarce. I finally found a book titled The Lost Cities of Africa by Basil Davidson, and was glad that the writer was neither prejudiced or romantic. All other books lacked information or, on the rare occasion, were chauvinistic.

Despite the difficulties, we are striving to create a country that reflects the splendor of Ancient Africa, and I hope that when our characters and readers finally reach the Woodlands, the imagery will meet your expectations.

Image: Jewellery of Amanishakheto from her pyramid at Meroe, Photographed by Einsamer Schütze

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