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49 votes
Accepted

Why were the West African islands uninhabited?

First off, I'd ask you to look at my answer to a similar question about Madagascar and New Zealand. In particular it points out that historically uninhabited landmasses got populated by humans in one ...
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45 votes
Accepted

Are there records of US slaves who practiced Islam following their import from Africa?

There is some very good evidence for captured Muslims who were sold as slaves, but continued to practice their faith. Perhaps the best known individuals were Ayuba Suleiman Diallo, who was enslaved ...
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37 votes
Accepted

Approximately how much travel time was saved by the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869?

That would have depended on the ship and your destination. To get a sense of the savings (the travel times are from today), consider the presentation that's referenced on the Suez Canal wiki page. ...
33 votes

Why was sugar cultivation more profitable in the Caribbean/Brazil than West Africa?

In short, Brazil and Caribbean Isles were easy to colonize and suited to the culture of the sugar cane. This related question will provide most of the explanation why Africa was harder to colonize, ...
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31 votes
Accepted

Did Egyptians circumnavigate Africa in three years during Nekau's reign?

While researching for this question, I found more details about what could be this (possible) adventure. Necho II hired a fleet of Phoenicians, who supposedly sailed from the Red Sea around Africa ...
29 votes

Why would the Rhodesians trust Blacks in their army?

The party line was that the war was not between Blacks and Whites, but between Rhodesians of all colours and international communism (Rhodesia Unafraid), that the communist-supported guerillas were a ...
26 votes
Accepted

Why didn't Britain or any other European power colonize Abyssinia/Ethiopia before 1936?

Abyssinia / Ethiopia (the borders of which expanded and contracted frequently over the centuries) maintained its independence until 1936 by a combination of diplomatic skill in playing would-be ...
25 votes

How powerful was the Malian empire?

POWER AND EXTENT OF THE MALI EMPIRE At its peak during the 14th century, the Mali empire controlled an area of well over one million Km2 (approx. three times the size of modern Germany): At its ...
25 votes

Did Japanese modernisation have an effect on Ethiopia?

Addis Hiwet first used the term 'Japanizer' to one group of modernisers in post-WWI Ethiopia who took the example of Meiji Japan as giving a model for development away from feudal forms. The model ...
24 votes
Accepted

Was there a serious proposal to offer India territory in East Africa?

Yes, surprising as it is, I found credible sources indicating that there was some discussion of offering India East Africa as a mandate. Perhaps it is useful for others who wish to read more about ...
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23 votes
Accepted

Did Julius Caesar say: "Africa, I have grabbed you"?

It apparently happened during Caesar's campaign against Scipio and Juba in 47BC, part of the wider Roman Civil War that was fought from 49–45BC. The story was recorded by Suetonius (Life of Julius ...
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23 votes

Why were the West African islands uninhabited?

The Sahara The Cape Verde islands are at the Southern edge of the Sahara and fairly far out to sea - traveling to the islands would require a multi-day deep sea journey of the kind that were rare ...
21 votes

Why was sugar cultivation more profitable in the Caribbean/Brazil than West Africa?

Many Native Americans had died of Old World disease, Africans did not When the Europeans showed up in the New World, they brought disease that killed a large portion of the local people (60%? 80%? 90%?...
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21 votes

Approximately how much travel time was saved by the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869?

Three steam ships of the Blue Funnel Line used both routes (round the Cape of Good Hope and via the Suez Canal) between Europe and Asia from 1866 to 1870. Upon switching from round the Cape to through ...
19 votes

How much contact did Sub-Saharan Africa actually have with the rest of the world since the beginning of civilization?

This thesis is manifestly false, and is indicative of the weaknesses of "Guns, germs and steel". For example, the making of iron tools was probably passed up the Nile, to Kush and Meroe, and then ...
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16 votes
Accepted

How historically accurate was the Queen's trip to Ghana portrayed in Episode 8 of The Crown?

SHORT ANSWER In several respects, it is at best misleading. Ghanaian leader Kwame Nkrumah's primary interests lay in Pan-Africanism and promoting the continent's freedom, independence and unity. He ...
15 votes
Accepted

How did ululation originate and spread?

Ululation is of such ancient origins, likely in Sumer, that it would be difficult to trace its diffusion to other cultures. For example, a Sumerian proverb written down 4,000 years ago reads: (...
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15 votes

How did the Tutsis win the civil war in Rwanda after 70% of them had been killed?

This question raises interesting questions. However, there are some confusions in the question. And I respectfully disagree with some of the factual and opinion content of the answers previously ...
15 votes
Accepted

Why did Guinea vote so differently in the 1958 French constitutional referendum?

Short answer: The Guinea 'No' vote: Sekou Toure, who was by far the most influential figure in Guinea, campaigned for a 'no' vote. Others voting 'Yes': Almost all local political leaders who could ...
14 votes

Was it true that Nelson Mandela refused to renounce violence while in Prison?

Indeed, Mandela did not want to renounce violence, during his incarceration, as a means of political change. While he had been offered an end to his imprisonment quite a few times, he categorically ...
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14 votes

Were Western (French, US or other) powers involved in the coup against Captain Sankara of Burkina Faso?

SHORT ANSWER Although France (especially) had the means and the motive to support the 1987 coup, there is currently no conclusive evidence of French, US or other Western powers involvement. However, ...
14 votes

Did the Romans see Africa as a black continent? Was there a perception of a divide between Africa and Europe?

You can't really compare the two, because the Romans lived in such a different world than we do. The Romans didn't really have the concept of a "continent", as they didn't know for a fact that land ...
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13 votes

Did Egyptians circumnavigate Africa in three years during Nekau's reign?

This story depends entirely on Herodotus 4,42. The passage in question reads: I wonder, then, at those who have mapped out and divided the world into Libya, Asia, and Europe; for the difference ...
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12 votes

Why was sugar cultivation more profitable in the Caribbean/Brazil than West Africa?

The cultivation of sugar was more profitable on islands. The plantations in the "Caribbean" were on islands. Until the mid-16th century at least, production from "Brazil," largely came from Santa ...
  • 103k
12 votes

When was the first confirmed circumnavigation of Africa?

The Egyptian/Phoenician circumnavigation of Africa you refer to is recorded by Herodotus: For Libya shows clearly that it is encompassed by sea, save only where it borders on Asia; and this was ...
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11 votes

Why was the area now known as Liberia chosen as the location for repatriation of African slaves in the US?

The initial plan was for somewhere close to Freetown, Sierra Leone, where the British had already resettled freed slaves with (it was perceived) some success. The area now known as Liberia was only ...
11 votes

How long would it take to travel from England to western Africa in the late 1890's?

SHORT ANSWER Based on evidence from the period 1894 to 1897, the trip would have taken between 21 and 35 days, depending on how many ports were stopped at on the way. Possible ports of call are shown ...
11 votes

Why would the Rhodesians trust Blacks in their army?

British Empire armies the world over were natives. India is an important example. Indian troops were important in British colonial expansion to China during the Opium wars, and marched a long distance ...
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11 votes

Did Egyptians circumnavigate Africa in three years during Nekau's reign?

The strongest evidence that this voyage really happened is the sentence in Herodotes: For my part I do not believe them, but perhaps others may-that in sailing round Lybia they HAD THE SUN UPON ...
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11 votes
Accepted

What was the flower of Empress Taytu?

Ascertaining details in legends might be a good thing. But it is a legend and curiously lacks detail, leaving open a huge space for projections and arbitrary symbols, to be filled by listeners. And ...
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