History is described as the chronological record of significant events that have occurred in the past and often including an explanation of how they have happened. When events happen before the written record, it is considered prehistory. According to Historians, West African region harbored some of the first settlers of people and have been in existence since 4000BCE. They grew large and created civilizations and settlements across the South of Sahara with Kingdoms often referred to as the Sahelian Kingdoms.
Lots of great and strong empires emerged, the Ghana Empire was established as early as the 4th century. The written information about these empires were all written by Arabs in their travelogues, Al Farazi, and Al Bakri, both geographers who described in their books “the empire of Ghana” as a resilient and well-organized empire, rich in gold and good at business. It also outlines that the King was very influential who controlled the region by decentralizing the power.
More and more empires will rise and soon decline but they were distinguished by their ability to function and control the people of the land. Some of the people of these empires still exist till day, we have the Mali Empire with Sunjata Keita which gave birth to the present day Mali, the Songhai Empire, Asanté Empire, Akan Kingdom, the Dahomey Kingdom, Benin Kingdom etc…
As the Europeans set in the 15th century with the first Portuguese traders, seeds of hatred were sown in the hearts of the rulers. They waged war against their neighbors in order to gain fresh captives who will be sold as slaves to the Europeans. A glitch that will still be felt centuries after with a great number of people, sold out of the continent as slaves based on menial exchanges such as mirrors, sugar etc.
Punch the clock to 1884, the Europeans thought it would be better to ease themselves « the burden » and thereby proposing the idea of a new civilization to these people. Of course, there were resistants but they didn’t yield into positive results. The continent was then divided like a piece of cake and the biggest pieces were given to the French and British Empires. This was termed as Balkanization.
This was the beginning of separation and the creation of borders, two former clan men are now different people. The Wolofs of Senegal became the French properties while the Gambians were the British Subjects. Inside the same superficial exists two different nations, one will continue with the French heritage and speak French while the other will speak English.
It is clear that West African former civilizations would have continued to exist in these regions without colonization as the empires were characterized with greatness and a solid structure. Colonization wasn’t supposed to be an option as the people would have still emerged in their own pace and style. Africans and the leaders are presently in a bowl of confusion between what their innate nature desires and what the formal education and civilization have taught them to do.