The Kanem- Bornu

Much of the history of great African empires is ignored. The Kanem- Bornu Empire is a example of a massive African Empire.

The Kanem- Bornu empire offers many important lessons to historians as well as a major reminder. Throughout history and history education the African continent is mostly ignored or forgotten about. Students across the globe learn of King Tutankhamun, the Pyramids of Giza, and the power of the Egyptian empires. They learn of Julius Caesar, the Colosseum, and the size of the Roman Empire. They learn of Pericles, the Parthenon, and the democracy of ancient Greece. However, Africa seems to be the long-lost continent. Africa’s history is filled with hundreds of empires, civilizations, languages, and cultures; however, it is forgotten in History. The Kanem- Bornu empire was one of the many complex and strong empires found in pre-colonial Africa.
Ngazargamu was the large capital city of the Kanem Bornu empire in Northern Africa. It was a capital city that at one point houses almost a quarter million people. It had almost seven hundred streets and totally dismantles the notion that the continent of Africa is a land of uncivilized savages. The ancient stronghold of Ngzargamu was a bustling metropolis in the epicenter of an enormous North African empire that spanned roughly three hundred thousand square miles and covers multiple modern-day countries in the region. This historical city is critically important to African history because it makes it known to the rest of the world that Africa is not some desert filled with barbarians. The existence and preservation of the history of Ngazargamu is proof that, prior to European’s destructive colonialism, Africa was home to a massive empire. While the ignorant stereotype that Africa is a land of savages is still belived, the Kanem Bornu empire is a perfect rebuttal to those statements. The history proves that the people of Africa can build massive empires just like the Greeks, Romans, Persians, and Babylonians. The remains, drawings, and paintings from Ngazargamu paint a picture of a thriving city of remarkable architecture, that rivals the Romans; a city of wealthy social status and sophisticated clothing, that rivaled the Greeks. Another large ancient metropolis that was forgotten by history, that is similar to Ngazargamu was the city of Tenochtitlan. Tenochtitlan was built by the Aztecs, who were also not believed to be able to build such a large epicenter, in modern day Mexico City, Mexico. It was an city of almost the same size as Ngazargamu that flourished architecturally and socially, but just like Kanem- Bornu fell to the wayside of the history books to the great Persians, Greeks, and Romans. It is important for history to know that there were other world empires and the remains at Ngazargamu are living testament to that. Unfortunately there is not any historical tours or information at the ruins yet, but there is growing sentiment in the region to make the ruins of Ngazargamu into a historical site. In the future the site will most likely be labeled as a monument or cultural site. As previously stated the ruins of Ngazargamu and the empire of Kanem-Bornu teach historians that Africa has always been a land of great powerful empires filled with millions of educated and civilized individuals. It also reinforces that we should remember that the Persians, Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks were not the only great empires as well as remembering the effect of colonialism on a once thriving region.

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