The Ancient History of Western Sudan
The name Sudan is probably a confusing term, especially to modern learners of history as it is a recent name given to the current Republic of Sudan governed by its capital city Khartoum. Geographically, it is the are bordered by Ethiopia and Eritrea from the East, Egypt and Libya from the North, Chad and Central Africa from the West and Zaire, Uganda and Kenya from the South.
With reference to ancient facts of history, to give any piece of information about ancient history of Western Sudan, it is necessary to point out to two important historical facts.
First, the origin of the term Sudan and the source from which it is derived.
Second, the part of Africa that was said to be known as Sudan in ancient history.
With regards to the name Sudan, originally it comes from the term`Bilad -al- Sudan` which means “Land of Blacks”. So the term is a mere derivation from the Arabic word ` Sauod` meaning ‘Blacks’ as an indication to the skin colour of the inhabitants living in the region. The term is said to be used by Arab travelers, geographers and historians who first wrote the history of the region.
In the course of the Part of Africa known as Sudan, ancient history indicates the area lying from Ethiopia and Eritrea on the Eastern Coast of Africa stretching to Ghana, Guinea and Mali on the Western Coast of Africa. On such basis, ancient history divides the region into three divisions: Eastern Sudan, Central Sudan and Western Sudan.
Eastern Sudan is referred to the area lying from Ethiopia in the East where the Kingdom of askum used to dominate, stretching to the region of the current Republic of Sudan where the Nubian Kingdom used to dominate. On other hand, the area encompasses the broad expanse of savanna stretching between the vast Sahara Desert to the North and the tropical rain forests of Guinea Coast to the south and north to Ghana and Mali is said to be known as Western Sudan.
The period prior to Islamic contact with this region, is largely unknown though archaeological remains indicate to existence of inhabitants thousands of years ago, the result of which the study of the ancient History of Western Sudan begins from the Medieval Age. Moreover, inspite of the tantalizing of archaeological remains, understanding of the great medieval kingdoms of ancient Western Sudan depends upon and is limited by these early written sources.
Understand this, some of the areas marked in & around green in the second picture represent a good proportion of Sudan As it was known prior to European contact. We need to start remembering who we are rather than accepting artificial post colonial nation states and ideology that do not properly define the complexity & size of us as a group. For example:
- The region centered on the Equator in the center of Africa. This region is larger than most people would recognize due to our maps using a projection that makes the equatorial region appear small with respect to northern and southern regions.
- The Human story started near the region known in Antiquity as the mountains of the moon(where the true garden of eden existed in a scientific sense).