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Ancient Africa

Kingdoms of Central Africa

Central Africa is a large region covered with rainforest and savanna grasslands. People have lived in this region for thousands of years. One of the first civilizations to develop here was the Sao Civilization in modern-day Chad and Cameroon. The Sao civilization began as early as 500 BCE. Over time, other kingdoms rose and fell in Central Africa. We will discuss some of the major kingdoms below.

Kingdoms of Central Africa
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Kingdom of Zimbabwe

The Kingdom of Zimbabwe came into power around 1200 CE and ruled for over 200 years. It was located in the current modern-day country of Zimbabwe. At the center of the kingdom was the famous city of Great Zimbabwe. Great Zimbabwe was a large city where an estimated 18,000 people lived during its peak. It was the center of power and trade in Central and Southern Africa for many years. Today, the large stone walls and towers of Great Zimbabwe still stand.


The Kingdom of the Kongo rose to power at the end of the 1300s. It ruled a large area of Central Africa until 1914 when it became a colony of Portugal. The king of the Kongo was called the Monikongo. In 1483, the Portuguese arrived. They brought with them Christianity and trade relations. They also brought with them the slave trade. Over time, the slave trade began to weaken the Kongo. Some rulers, most notably Manikongo Afonso I, attempted to stop the slave trade. However, they were unsuccessful. By the late 1800s, the kingdom was collapsing and was taken over by the Portuguese in 1914.


The Kingdom of Luba formed in Central Africa in 1585. It ruled a large region in the modern-day country of the Democratic Republic of Congo up until 1889. Luba was ruled by both a king, called the Mulpwe, and a council of elders, called the Bamfumus. The first king of Luba was Llunga Mbili. His eldest son, Kalala Llunga, was considered the greatest of the Luba kings. His second son, Tshibinda Llunga, founded the Lunda Kingdom.


The Lunda Kingdom was established in 1665 by Tshibinda Llunga, brother of the King of Luba. The Lunda expanded to the east, conquering other tribes and gaining territory. The government of the Lunda was very similar to that of the Luba with a ruling king and a council. The Kingdom continued to grow until the late 1800s when European powers arrived and colonized the region.


The Kingdom of Mutapa ruled a large region in Central Africa in the modern-day countries of Zimbabwe and Mozambique. It was first established in 1430 by a warrior leader from the Kingdom of Zimbabwe. The kingdom grew and became wealthy from mining gold and trading ivory. It established trade relations with Portugal in the 1500s. The kingdom collapsed when civil war broke out in 1759 upon the death of the king.

Photo of the walls of Great Zimbabwe
The ruins of Great Zimbabwe by Jan Derk

Interesting Facts about the Kingdoms of Central Africa

To learn more about Ancient Africa:

Ancient Egypt
Kingdom of Ghana
Mali Empire
Songhai Empire
Kingdom of Aksum
Central African Kingdoms
Ancient Carthage

Art in Ancient Africa
Daily Life
Traditional African Religions
Slavery in Ancient Africa
Cleopatra VII
Shaka Zulu

Countries and Continent
Nile River
Sahara Desert
Trade Routes

Timeline of Ancient Africa
Glossary and Terms

Works Cited

History >> Ancient Africa

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